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. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. (NIV)
1.In this passage Paul is talking to believers about how to treat other believers if they have moral lapses. Who are the "spiritual?" (Compare this text with I Cor. 3:1-3.) How can you tell if you are one of the "spiritual?" Might the "spiritual" also have moral lapses sometimes?
2.The Greek word translated "restore" in this passage is a word that is used in other places for setting broken bones, mending nets, surgical excision of a tumor, or bringing factions together. What does this passage say about how to deal with those caught in sin? Is Paul suggesting punishment?
3.The word "restore" suggests that the sin has separated the sinner from the body of believers in some way. What do you think is necessary for that person to be restored to full fellowship? (see John 8:1-11)
4.At the same time that Paul is admonishing the spiritual to restore the stumbling believers, he is also warning them that they too might be tempted. Nevertheless, he does not suggest that they distance themselves from their brothers. He commands them to "carry each other's burdens" (see Romans 15:1-3) The emphasis here is on moral burdens or weaknesses. How do you carry another's moral burdens? How do you keep from being tainted by or sucked into another's problems? (see Romans 15: 5-7)
5. Paul says that by bearing each other's burdens we "fulfill the law of Christ." What is the "law of Christ?" (see John 13:34)
6. What is the point Paul is making in verses 4 and 5 where he talks about each testing "his own actions," and taking pride in oneself "without comparing himself to somebody else"? Of what do you think Paul is suggesting that we should be "proud"? If we compare ourselves to each other instead of scrutinizing our actions for their own sakes, how are we likely to rate ourselves? What do you think Paul is suggesting that we'll find by this self-scrutiny? (see I Cor. 11:28 and II Cor. 13:5)
7. Paul says, "for each one should carry his own load." In the context of this verse his suggestion here is that we must each be responsible for our own actions. Do you have any negative habits or attitudes which you justify by reminding yourself how annoying certain situations are? Might these attitudes change if you began to "carry the burden" of the person irritating you? How might you do that?
8. Paul says in verse 3, "If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself." The nature of deception is that we don't know when we're deceived. Pride is a legacy of our Adventist heritage. Is there some aspect of your Christian walk of which you feel proud? In what areas of your life should you be asking God to reveal truth? What arrogance or sense of smugness do you need to surrender to Jesus so he can heal that place in your soul?
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