…if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness… – Gal. 6:1 KJV
The above scripture is part of the advice of the Apostle Paul to the church in Galatia and its environs. He was referencing a situation where an individual has being overtaken by a fault. The individual in this scripture is a believer and a member of the body of Christ. The King James version of that scripture uses the word “overtaken”. The first take from this scripture is Paul’s belief that indeed a believer can be overtaken by a fault.
To be overtaken by something will mean that the thing comes ahead of the person. It means that such thing used to be behind the person but suddenly, not only did the thing catch up with the individual but also went ahead of the individual.
In relation to a Christian, it can be seen as a situation or an act that the individual has gone past probably with the belief that it is no longer relevant but now becomes something relevant to the individual’s life. If this was any other thing, probably Paul would not mind but Paul describes this thing as a fault. The dictionary defined fault in relation to a person as an unattractive or unsatisfactory feature in the character of a person. The benchmark to measure this unattractiveness or unsatisfactory conduct remains the Will of God especially as it relates to the individual.
For such a fault to overtake an individual, it means either the individual in terms of spirituality slowed down or actually stopped growing since the devil who is man’s major antagonist remains on the rampage looking for whom to devour – 1Pet. 5:8.
At the point of slowing down or stopping in terms of spiritual growth, some factors will definitely have set in to warrant the reduction in speed or complete stoppage of movement. It is with this in mind that Paul advises the still spiritual person to show love whilst trying to bring the lost individual back on track. The love is not for the fault that overtook the individual but for the possible events that led to the decrease or stoppage of growth. Christians need to understand that everyone including that man of God is first man before his godly call and so is faced regularly by such challenges that are peculiar to man.
Apostle Paul himself recognising this asked for prayers (Eph. 6:19) from the Ephesian church so that he may have boldness to preach the Word. Why will he suddenly develop cold feet and specifically in some locations? He only knows, but he is aware that he may just find himself sliding back if he does not receive the spiritual support that he lacks through their prayers.
To correct a Christian in this situation is to firstly understand why the individual suddenly slowed down in the spiritual area of his/her life? What events led to such individual not bothering to call for help when the supposed fault caught up and what the individual is doing now that the fault has overtaken him/her? Was it possible for fellow Christians to have noticed these potential banana skin timely and helped to avoid the slip? If yes, can they also be faulted on this new spiritual state of the brother? It is all these points put together that should guide the reaction of the brethren in addressing this individual.
Paul sounds a note of caution that brethren in a position to help the brother need to be spiritual and meek. To be meek means to be gentle, quiet and submissive. Is Paul saying that brethren should be submissive to the fault or the wish of the individual with fault? Definitely not!. He wants us to be submissive to the Will of God in that situation. This is where majority of Christians get into trouble. Most people wanting to help in this situation usually hold a position that has not been placed side by side with the Will of God.
The situation with the brother may definitely be a fault by all previous standards but there is the need to check the current status of that situation with God and be willing to be meek with whatever is the outcome of the check. The Bible is full of several instances of acts that would have been seen as fault but with spiritual discernment or increased human knowledge, was later seen to be the Will of God for that situation – Gen. 26:34 – 27:40; Ex. 3:21; 12:35-36; Gen. 20:2-14; Hos. 1:2; Gen. 38:1-15.
Most Christians are facing various challenges today because of the non observance of this critical step in their attempt to correct or help a brother. The Apostle Paul says that not handling the situation properly has the potential of becoming a spiritual trap for the person. That is why he expects that the person that wants to help brother should be spiritual. It is not a role that just anyone can play.
Are you sure that situation you have found yourself is not due to your lack of caution in attempting to save that individual who was caught in a fault. The same Apostle Paul advises those who think they are standing to take care lest they fall – 1Cor. 10:12. Are you sure you are not also in that uncomfortable situation because of your lack of caution in the way you attended to that brother. Pray to God to help you in finding the way out and I am sure he will accept your plea and provide a way. He, after all makes a way where there seems to be no way – Phil. 2:13-14. May God make a way for us out of our predicaments in Jesus name. Amen.