Last Sunday Acts 2:42-47 showed us what going deep in relationship for mutual sanctification looks like, and I gave some examples of that in my own life. True koinonia means more than mere encouragement. It means honestly, kindly and passionately engaging one another when we start to drift for our good and God's greater glory. Today's entry on Scotty Smith's Heavenward blog teaches us how to pray toward that end:
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Gal. 6:1-2
Heavenly Father, we come to your throne of grace this morning praying for wisdom and gentleness to love our struggling, entangled friends well. None of us naturally likes confrontation, and we decry self-righteous busybodies who show up in our lives like self-appointed prosecuting attorneys in the kingdom; but these words of Paul paint a different picture and present a different spirit.
Give us kindness and strength. If a friend loves in all seasons, that certainly must involve the seasons when we get entangled in sin. Sin brings death. We tend to forget this—death. If we saw a friend drinking poison, we wouldn’t hesitate to do something. If we saw a friend stepping close to a pit of rattlesnakes, we’d warn them. Help us hate sin enough and love our friends enough to risk getting involved. Better to risk the awkwardness and messiness, the anger and the defensiveness than to watch another life, marriage or family simply go down the drain.
Give us discernment and persistence. It’s not about a rush to judgment but about a journey to restoration. Help us to listen before launching. The goal in pursuing our disconnected friends must always be restoration, not just rebuke. Some entanglements take quite a while to get disentangled.
We may have to carry some of these burdens longer than we realize. Father, we need the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of Jesus. You promise to give us sufficient grace for all things, and we take you at your Word. We need great grace to do this hard work well.
Give us gentleness and hope. Those who remove specks the best are those who are most aware of the log in their own eye. Keep us humble and keep us aware of our own “temptability.” None of us is beyond the need of grace, and none of us is beyond the reach of grace. Keep us kind and keep us expectant. Our joy is in remembering Jesus is the great Restorer, not us. This is the law of Christ we are fulfilling; his yoke we are bearing; his story that’s being written. Fill us with hope. Fill us with the hope of the gospel.
Lastly, Father, we praise you for churches that are stepping up and are seeking to do this hard and heart work of discipline and restoration. Increase their tribe and bless their endeavors. It’s never easy, never. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ holy and loving name.