When I was in college I had a friend who committed suicide. When I heard he was in trouble, I immediately left my dorm room and searched for him but got there too late. About a month later, I had another friend who had cheated on his wife. He felt like life was over and tried to commit suicide as well. My roommate woke me up in the middle of the night and we ran to find him through the maze of cornfields that surrounded the campus. I found him and we wrestled for awhile, which gave me a black eye. We finally got him in the back of my friend’s truck and raced towards the hospital where they pumped the 100+ pills out of his stomach.
What did my friends need during that time? A lecture? Did they need me to go around talking about their condition? They needed me in the flesh going after them to save their lives. Did they want that at the moment? Yes and no. They ran because of sin they were in but deep down they did want someone coming after them. What do Christians do when someone is caught in sin? Galatians 6:1-3 in the Message says this, “If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.”
Put yourself into this person’s difficult position. What would you want and need? Rumors spread? Christians putting distance between themselves and you, the “horrible sinner” (For all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory – Romans 3:23). Scripture tells commands us to go after those we know are in sin to help restore them to Christ. We forgive them and lovingly walk out restoration with them as they repent. That’s the goal anyway. Sharing their burdens doesn’t mean posting it on Facebook or gossiping about it to others. It means carry the burden with them. Hurt when they hurt (Romans 12:15). Sadly most of us are so out of touch with godliness that we have an immediate reaction to either ignore it or gossip about it. Truth be known, we are our brother or sister in Christ’s keeper. We are to be responsible in helping others to be holy. Iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17).
No one needs a sin referee with a striped shirt and a whistle. What they need is a friend who understands forgiveness, mercy, and love because they’ve experienced it from the Lord and desire to do the same to others. We must speak truth but in love. When we do this, Ephesians 4:15 says we help them and ourselves to grow up in all things and look more like Christ. If we know of someone in sin and do not go after them to help restore them we are also guilty of sin and may lose a brother or sister in the process. We shame people out of church when we don’t help them get free (Romans 8:1-2). I had a lady recently tell me that she thought about getting an abortion because she didn’t want to tell the church. What! She obviously was either deceived in the church’s potential reaction or she had seen the church not be Christ-like before. James 5:19-20 remind us, “My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.” Love someone enough to not quit on them. Go after them.