2006-05-25 - When We Fall
Gal 6:1-5 Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load. (NASB)
I slipped and fell at the karate school tonight. I was turning 180 degrees during a shuttle run and slipped on a wet spot and landed like a ton of bricks. Just a little damp spot on the mats caused my 210 pound frame to go horizontal in mid-air and gravity took over from there. I'm all right. I elbowed myself in the ribs trying to break my fall. My pride is a little wounded, but I'll live. The good news is that before I could get to the point where I was ready to stand up again, two of my friends where right there to ready to help. The feeling of knowing that someone what there to help made the whole embarrassing moment easier to bear. Someone was on my side when I needed it. No judgment, just concern and the desire to do what they could for me.
My mind started rolling this round later. What about a spiritual fall? Is that any different?
It is not really all that different. When a Christian stumbles in their walk with Christ, they know it. They usually don't need to be told they messed up. What they need is what I saw - two of my friends waiting with hands extended to help me get up on my feet again. They need prayer and encouragement. They need to know that, when they are ready to talk about it, you will be there for them to listen. If they are in denial, let them know you are concerned. Beating them around the head and shoulders with Bible verses is not step one.
Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (KJV)
If you think you are in a position to judge and hand out stern correction, look inside. If we are honest, we don't have to dig too far down before we find things that we have to work on ourselves. Is there a time for correction? Yes, but not usually first thing. The more mature a Christian becomes, the more they realize their level of daily, even hourly dependence of Jesus to get through the day. Steven Curtis Chapman once did a song that spoke about living "the next five minutes", and then starting over again. If you want a taste of humility, ask God to give you a glimpse into your heart. There is a side that wants to serve the Savior you love. And there is a side that is at war with the very idea that you can't do just whatever you please to do. That's the side that seeks its own way constantly that needs to be reined in and kept under control. This dark side of your heart might startle you a bit.
A friend of mine found out she was expecting. That was the good news. The bad news is that she was not married, and a mature Christian who understood that she had made a mistake. A group of her friends were all there with hugs and support. She didn't need to be told. She knew. And she needed help to get through what was coming. She apologized to each of us, and she was assured over and over that it made no difference in our friendships. By the end of the evening, she knew we would be there for her. Jesus, Who is our example, did not condemn the woman caught in adultery. (John 8:1-11) Who are we to stand in judgment where Jesus would not?
The bad news is we will all stumble from time to time. The good news is that the "old man" the Bible speaks of representing that darker side of your heart is dying and will one day be removed as we enter Eternity. We will still be tempted in this life, but the power of sin and death were crushed at the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The doorway to eternal life in Heaven is open again.
When someone falls, be there with a hand to help them up.