Everyone falls sometimes. As Christians, we shouldn't expect that temptation and trials won't exist anymore. As long as we are in this body living in this fallen world, we will face hardships, troubles, testings, and all sorts of trials.
We should understand that we are not perfect. While we have the Holy Spirit of God living in us and sanctifying us, we still have our freedom of choice, and we can make wrong choices anytime.
That said, what do we do when a beloved brother in Christ makes the wrong choice and falls into sin? How do we respond to a fellow Christian's stumbling and falling?
I pray that we would all respond with grace.
Love like Christ loved
When a brother falls, our response usually changes depending on how we see the person in sin. When the person is beloved and dear to us, we normally respond with grace and understanding. But when the person is disliked or someone not close to us, we normally respond with judgment or condemnation. Such partiality is wrong!
Whether or not the person in sin is a friend or not, our response should that be of Jesus Christ: compassionate towards the person in sin; passionate for the sinner's repentance, redemption and restoration; and passionate against the sin and the damage that Satan had caused. We ought to work for the restoration of our brother or sister.
Here are some things we should do in response to a brother's fall into sin.
1) Avoid any urge to condemn
We are not commanded to condemn people for their sins. We need to remember that we ourselves sinned, but Christ forgave us. He did not condemn us, rather, He gave us forgiveness and allowed us to repent of our sin and rise up from our fall.
Let's learn from what Christ Jesus did to the woman caught in sin, as recorded in John 8.
"When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.""
2) Work towards the restoration of the fallen brother or sister
Friends, we are commanded to restore those who fall. We are to do this gently and in love, taking care not to fall ourselves.
"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. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
As a general rule, only deal personally with a Christian of the same sex. If you're a man, then avoid talking one-on-one with a hurting and vulnerable Christian sister. Same goes for Christian women who feel like they "should" talk to a sinning brother – don't. This is why we were warned to consider ourselves lest we "also be tempted." Always seek a third person to join sensitive conversations.
Remember to pray for your brother. Keep praying for his restoration, and encourage him to trust in the Lord as he grows in following Him.
3) Shut down any gossip about the fallen brother or sister
It's highly likely that others will be gossiping or talking about the Christian's fall with no intention to restore, only to gossip. When you hear others do this, do your best to shut the gossip down.
Gossiping about Christians in sin won't help restore them. Worse, it changes public perception to destroy the one in sin. This is so wrong on all counts, and God will hold the gossips accountable for their words.
As for you, do your best to shut the malicious gossip down.
"If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless." (James 1:26)