"Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted." (Galatians 6:1)To be caught in sin is different from living in sin. One is a habitual practice and a lifestyle while the other overtakes us in a moment of weakness or inattentiveness. We are all people in process and, from time to time, we all fail to hit the mark. While we are all striving for the glory of God, we sometimes will still fall far short of it. James warns us, "For we all stumble in many ways." (James 3:2) And John comforts us saying, "And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (1 John 2:1) Knowing that sin is still a real possibility for most (if not all) of us. When we fall, and sin takes over us, it is good to have those around us who can pick us up and restore us onto the right way.
Paul places three conditions on those who would desire to aid and restore those taken by sin. First that they be spiritual. The spiritual man or woman is a mature man or woman, one who understands the wisdom and truth of the Kingdom of God. Paul speaks of that wisdom that is taught to the mature, "which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words." (1 Corinthians 2:13) The spiritual man or woman is also one who can accurately appraise the world and situation around them. Paul says that, "But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one." (1 Corinthians 2:15) Finally, a spiritual man or woman is one who has already learned how to restore themselves from their own stumbling and falling. They have taken to heart the words of Jesus, "first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:5)
Secondly, Paul says that we should restore them in a spirit of gentleness. James tells us that wisdom is best expressed and demonstrated through meekness and gentleness. "Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom." (James 3:13) Even Christ came in gentleness as He sought to restore us back to God. Jesus said of Himself, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart." (Matthew 11:29) There is too often the impression in our society that to be tough on crime we must be tough on criminals. Many times we take this same attitude into the Kingdom believing that to be tough on sin we must be tough on the sinner. However, Jesus did not see it this way. He was tough on sin by dying for the sinner. Perhaps the greatest stroke we can lay against sin in the world is to lay down our lives for its sinners.
Finally, Paul warns that we not loose sight of ourselves, let we too be tempted. The word used for "look to" means to "aim at" or "spy on." We must never forget that we too are subject to sin. No matter how mature we are, we are never too mature to sin. It is not that we are destined to sin, but we are all still people in process and each of us still have areas of our lives where we are susceptible to temptation and sin. One of the greatest dangers to those attempting to save a drowning person is drowning themselves. The same is true when restoring the fallen. None of us are invincibly, all of us have our weaknesses. It is only pride that would convince us otherwise. Let us not forget what King Solomon said, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling." (Proverbs 16:18)