Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1

 I have a friend who restores old cars as a hobby. Every once in a while an old, rusted out chuck of metal will appear at the door of his shop. Months later that rusted out heap will be transformed into a show room condition classic automobile. Bob is old school. While you can buy ‘new’ after market parts for just about any car made, he prefers, if at all possible to repair the original body parts. If that won’t work, he’ll scour the local junk yards for the same models and buy those old parts. Only as a last resort will he buy the ‘new, after market’ items for his project.

 When I think of Galatians 6:1, I think of Bob and his passion for restoring old cars. It is truly a work of art when his finished projects are rolled out of his shop. Bob knows cars. Bob knows how to take the tools he has and use them to take what was once considered damaged goods and make it the envy of everyone, whether they are classic car buffs or not.

 In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he is writing to a group of people who wee struggling with the whole question of sin. What things were ‘permissible’? What things weren’t? How do we deal with the gray areas? It’s a problem that has plagued humanity since that first apple in the garden.

 As he concludes his letter Paul gives some instruction on what our response should be when sin ‘enters the camp’. The instruction is wrapped up in one small phrase that is loaded with implications for the Christ-followers. “Restore gently”.

 First of all, there is no question that there is a problem. The person involved is a sinner. He’s been caught red handed. He is, pardon the pun, ‘guilty as sin’. Secondly, it’s important to notice that the subject is not a ‘person of the world.’ This guy could be a pastor, a church elder or a Sunday School teacher. He’s one of the family!

 When an old rust bucket appears at Bob’s shop, it’s pretty obvious what the problem is. The important part of the restoration process isn’t identifying the problem though. The most important part is how we can get the car back to mint condition. There are times when the damage to the car is too much. THAT IS NOT TRUE WITH THE HUMAN SOUL! Jesus love can transform the most broken, discouraged person.

 To do restoration correctly, the person doing the restoring must have certain skills required for the task. First of all, he must know how the project is put together. In the human realm, when dealing with sin in our midst, that means we must take the time to know the circumstances surrounding the problem. What has that person gone through? What made him/her act in the way they did? Restoration requires relationship.

 Secondly, we need to know what tools will work at which time in the restoration process. Inappropriate tool usage can damage the project beyond repair. Hammers and sandpaper work well with car restoration, but the human spirit needs a soft and gentler approach.

 Next, it’s important to remember that to do car restoration correctly takes time. The same is true for the human soul. While Jesus forgives us the moment we ask, the healing process can take much longer and requires much patience.

 That is what Grace is about. Initially it’s bringing someone to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. But our work doesn’t stop there. To bring healing in the lives of others we must gently and patiently bring them to restoration by building a relationship with them and showing them how much Jesus loves them. It is His Holy Spirit that will bring the lasting change we hope for.

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