Sunday, April 12, 2015

When to Give Up on People

By Allen White

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. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Galatians 6:1-5

It’s far easier to replace something than to restore it. Several months ago, I received a call about an accident at our house. In trying to retrieve a toy, one of my children had knocked over the grandfather clock that my father had built. Fortunately, no one was injured. But, the clock is toast.

Of course, my child is more important than a piece of furniture. In fact, I drove home in the middle of the day just to give a hug and a reassurance.

How could I be some calm about the loss of a family heirloom? Because in my father’s house there are many grandfather clocks. In fact, there is another one exactly like my broken clock that my father also built. It’s easier to replace it than to repair it. The broken clock now sits in my garage. My neighbors walk by and think that, yes, I’m just that rich.

But, if that clock was one of a kind or if my father was no longer around to build clocks, the broken clock might have a different future. Not only is a handmade clock a valuable piece of furniture, but it’s also a special memory of my dad carefully handcrafting the clock in his basement shop. It would be hard to part with. It would be repaired at any cost. No expense would be spared.

We are surrounded by broken people. Each is unique. Not one can be replaced. Yet, it seems easier to part with people than to restore them.

The Bible tells us that as believers, we have a responsibility to each other – “carry one another’s burdens.” When someone in our small group has a problem, it’s our job to help with their problem. Provide a listening ear. Pray for them. Encourage them. When a person has sinned, it’s our job to restore them gently and not cut them off at the needs.

Now, bearing someone’s burden does not mean taking over their problem. We bear one another’s burdens, but each one should carry his own load. As John Townsend and Henry Cloud teach in Boundaries, everyone is required to carry his own backpack.

Everyone should take responsibility for himself. When the burden is heavy, then we should help. But, we shouldn’t be carrying what other people need to carry for ourselves. When we find ourselves carrying an abundance of backpacks so that others don’t have to carry anything, we’ve entered into a co-dependent relationship.

The other caution is that in restoring another, we don’t become overly sympathetic or even informed of their sinful ways. Otherwise, the temptation that pulled on them might begin to pull on us as well. Broken human beings are susceptible to the ugliness of sin.

Who needs your help? Whose burden is too heavy for them these days? What kind of help can you give? What kind of help should you give? Where should you draw the line? Sometimes the best help is to pray for them and then refer them to someone who has greater expertise. If you don’t know when to refer, read this post.

Oh, and if you’re interested in a “slightly used” grandfather clock, give me a call.

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