1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1–2, NKJV)
How we react when a fellow Christian is overtaken by sin can help restore their soul or hinder their repentant return to the Lord. The spiritual Christian is mature in faith and responds with meek, empathetic urgency (a “spirit of gentleness”). Without delay and careful to avoid using self-righteous words and actions, mature Christians recognize their own exposure to sin’s temptations. Ready to bear the burden for the soul captured by sin, this person humbly accepts the task by using the direct and loving correction of reproof, rebuke, and exhortation from God’s word (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Surely this is how we would want others to approach us if we have fallen into sin (Matt. 7:12). Hopefully, this describes how you treat someone “overtaken in a trespass.” If not, consider yourself, make the needed corrections, and then help your brethren when they sin (Matt. 7:3-5).
15 not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, 16 to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s sphere of accomplishment. 17 But “he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” 18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10:15–18, NKJV)
The apostle Paul energetically preached the gospel and fulfilled his ministry with faithful zeal. We can learn lessons by observing his gospel labors. First, Paul did not boast in other men’s labors (v. 15-16). That is, he gave credit where credit was due. He did not take credit for another person’s work. This trait of genuine meekness always serves the cause of the gospel. We should imitate Paul by admiring and encouraging others’ faithful work instead of trying to “ride their coattails” and elevate ourselves. Secondly, Paul did not boast in himself (v. 18). Self-commendation can color an honest examination of ourselves and our work for the Lord (Gal. 6:3-4). “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips” (Prov. 27:2). Thirdly, Paul boasted in the Lord instead of himself (v. 17). He could say, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” in the Lord (2 Cor. 12:10). Our faith must be in the strength of the Lord, not ourselves. Fourthly, Paul sought the Lord’s approval above all (v. 18). So, he worked diligently to be approved by God (cf. 2 Tim. 2:15; 4:7-8). In whose approval do we boast, men’s or God’s?
“Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” (Philippians 4:5, NKJV)
Gentleness is another word for meekness and is part of the fruit of the Spirit we must bear in our lives (Galatians 5:23). It is a companion of humility and longsuffering in Colossians 3:12, indicating the condition of heart that expresses moral strength in the face of trials, while maintaining a quiet spirit in the face of provocation. Gentleness or meekness is not cowardice, nor is it indecisiveness. It is moral strength which is properly directed to help those who falter, while bearing with troublesome times (Galatians 6:1-2). Gentleness is a humble and kind demeanor in the face of another’s anger. The spirit of gentleness is the soothing quality of gentle conduct that combines with spiritual poise and strength. Gentleness refuses to be harsh or obnoxious in the face of unkind remarks (Numbers 12:1-3). It is the character of Christ Himself (Matthew 11:29). Let us endeavor to imitate Him. Our gentleness will be seen by others and it will be rewarded by the Lord, who is near.