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What does spiritual help look like?
Thinking of God
spiritual help

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2). 

The apostle Paul was trying to help the Christians in “the churches of Galatia” (Galatians 1:2) in their personal relations with one another. He wanted them to view one another in a spirit of love and concern, as becomes those who live and walk by the power of the Holy Spirit (See Galatians 5:25-26).

A cartoonist illustrated this scene: A hand is sticking out of the surface of a pool of water, desperately seeking rescue. An individual kneels beside the water, reaching out to the drowning man. But instead of holding something for the man to grab and be rescued, the extended hand offered… a bar of soap!!!

We’re right to stand aghast at this insult to human compassion. Hopefully, few people, religious or not, would be this brutal. And this is certainly not how Christians help people drowning in spiritual despair. The cartoonist meant, I suppose, for the picture to be humorous. But it’s far from it. It’s disgusting. 

So, what does kindness and compassion look like for a follower of Jesus? What is Paul trying to tell us (in the passage above) about helping our fellows in a hostile land (Hebrews 11:9, 10)? 

A number of things might be in his mind, but none more important than the meekness of a disciple commanded to help this struggling Christian in danger of losing his life. 

Few things will “turn people off” faster than an assumption of spiritual superiority. When Paul addressed the “spiritual” among the Galatians he didn’t mean the spiritually superior. Sanctimonious arrogance was the target of some of Jesus’ sharpest criticism. The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector was directed at “some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt….” (Luke 18:9). 

One of the most electric scenes in Scripture takes place in the temple court, where Jesus exposed the shameless hypocrisy of those who heartlessly brought a woman caught in adultery before him (John 8). Here is “a spirit of gentleness” in flesh and blood.

Please don’t misunderstand. Spiritual discipline for the willfully and stubbornly sinful is important. Those who sin through weakness need our help, not condemnation. We can’t overstate the importance of seeing ourselves as God sees us. 

And it’s impossible to help those who need spiritual restoration unless we are willing to leave the soap in the hand of God!


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