WHO LOOKS AFTER YOU AS YOU LOOK AFTER OTHERS?

WHO LOOKS AFTER YOU AS YOU LOOK AFTER OTHERS?

We are barely two decades into this millennium and already we have seen two highly contagious and fatal epidemics; SARS and the Avian Flu. While it is saddening to see so many fall to these pandemics, what is even more heart wrenching is to see their caregivers fall.

I mean, think about it; there they were, reaching out to and caring for these people, seeing to their needs when no one else would, when no one else could; and all they had to show for it, was to be infected as well. Hardly seems fair, does it?

But that’s the way the cookie crumbles when it comes to care. The expression of care is a selfless act, putting the caregiver in a vulnerable position. Showing care is also at odds with taking care of oneself, because the needs of the patient and the caregiver are often conflicting in nature. So those of us who have spent time taking care of sick relations will realize that often, as the patient recovers, the caregiver becomes ill.

And that is why then, Paul reminds us that

“…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.” Galatians 6:1

We always pay attention to the ‘restorative’ bit and often neglect the last 5 words. Yet, these words hold such sense and we will do well to heed them, especially if we are rendering care to others. Let us see why.

Check any translation of the Bible and the word used is always the same, ‘tempted’. But why is it that we are tempted when we help others? Remember what happened to Adam and Eve when they ate of the fruit?

“Then the eyes of the two of them were opened [that is, their awareness increased], and they knew that they were naked;…” Genesis 3:7 [AMP]

Their awareness increased. They learned something new about themselves and the world around them. And isn’t that what happens when we help others?

When we see a brother being overtaken by temptation, while we do our best to reason with him and make him see that it is wrong, we also listen in while he reveals the sordid details of his actions, which can sometimes make us cringe.

But cringe though we may, such a session also makes us aware of yet another sin, another way of doing wrong; and for some of us, we may even come away with this thought ringing in our heads , ‘You mean you actually got away with that?’.

Sounds ludicrous right now, I know. But step away from the ‘holy’ for a moment and consider this.

When Barings fell, when the embezzlement at Enron came to light; though we were disgusted at the lack of integrity displayed by those involved; raise your hands, those of you who wished you could also get in on a piece of that action. You did, didn’t you? Just that you hoped you wouldn’t get caught.

Similarly, when you watch a ‘cops and robbers’ movie, do we lament at the state of crime in the world today? Are we disgusted at the unrighteous acts of thievery and deceit? Or do we walk away from the cinema saying, ‘If only he did not tell that person, or let his guard down; he would not have gotten caught.’

We lament the ‘getting caught’, not the crime. Isn’t that strange?

But if you think about it, strange it is not, really. Because

“sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you,” Genesis 4:7 [AMP]

And Satan is constantly asking excessively that all who believe be given up to him and taken out of the power and keeping of God, that he might sift all of us like grain (Luke 22:31 [AMP]).

So when we help and counsel a brother or sister who has sinned, guess who is right there in the midst of that prayer meeting, whispering into our ear, ‘Hey, you’re smarter than that. He got caught, but you won’t.’

And that is why we should be always be

“…keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also.” Galatians 6:1 [AMPC]

You know, we humans respond very strangely to the word ‘no’. We don’t understand it. Here’s an experiment to prove my point.

Think about something you really shouldn’t be eating right now. Maybe it’s too oily, maybe it’s too fattening, maybe it’s against doctor’s orders. Got that? Alright, now start thinking about how much you should not be wanting it. Done? What thing are you thinking about right now? What object fills your mind? That which you shouldn’t be eating, right? Anything change after you added the ‘no’ or ‘should not’ to your thoughts? And that’s my point.

When we counsel someone who has fallen, all that happens to us is that we get made aware of yet another ‘thing’. We may know that we should not partake of its fruits, but our minds don’t understand that, does it? It is still fixated over that ‘thing’. So over time, if left unchecked, the world will condition our minds into rationalizing that the deed really isn’t all that bad after all, and soon, we get tempted.

So what should we do? Should we stop helping others?

By no means, beloved. We are called to help. And while there are side effects to counselling, the gains that we get from the revelations of our Father’s love in our lives, far outweighs the ills that come from exposing our minds to another sin.

Yet, protection, we need; and we have seen how we can give Godly Christian correction. We have also seen the steps we can take to combat temptation; and we have seen what assurances Jesus has given when it comes to protecting us from temptation.

But most of all, we must come to two realizations.

Firstly, note who is the one who is supposed to be doing the restoration.

“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.” Galatians 6:1

That’s right, ‘you who are spiritual’. But what does that mean?

“…you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit]…” Galatians 6:1 [AMPC]

Or in another words,

“…[that is, you who are responsive to the guidance of the Spirit]…” Galatians 6:1 [AMP]

Remember who you really are. And remember that because you are the beloved child of God, you are not alone when facing the temptations and trials of your life; for you have

“…the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.” John 14:26
So don’t forget to seek guidance as you guide, protection as you protect, and strength as you strengthen. For only when we are responsive to the guidance of the Spirit will we be able to have the confidence that we will not succumb to temptation.

Next, we must never say ‘never’.

We are told to “…restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness [not with a sense of superiority or self-righteousness]…” Galatians 6:1 [AMP]

But why is humility such an important attribute to being protected?

Well, humility says, ‘I know I can’t do this on my own, so I need help.’ And because we are responsive to the guidance of the Spirit, He responds to our call for help and guides us out of temptation. So humility lets us receive protection, and puts the responsibility of care on the Holy Spirit, not ourselves.

Now, imagine if instead, you said, ‘No problem, I can handle temptation on my own’?

Beloved, Paul reminds us that

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

So though we put ourselves on the line each and every time we help others and make ourselves vulnerable each and every time we are made aware of sin; we can take comfort in the fact that because we are responsive to the guidance of the Spirit, protection is, for us, ‘received’ not performed, because the responsibility of care is on the Spirit.

Therefore get out there and carrying on looking after others with renewed confidence that our Father is looking after you.

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