Brethren, and if a man be overtaken in any fault, you, who are spiritual, restore such a one, through instruction, in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Galatians 6:1
When Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray Him, they did not immediately assume that they were not the one. In fact, each considered himself as a possible candidate. They were horrified at the thought of betraying their master. They each humbly questioned if it could be them.
When we read the words, “considering thyself” in Galatians 6:1 it is very similar to what those disciples experienced. We are to look at ourselves, knowing it could be us. We should recognize the fact that we are capable of committing any sin that another has committed. The possibility of denying Christ was something the disciples feared could happen to them. That is what humility creates. We see ourselves for the capability of sin which is within us.
Far too many people who try to restore others, assume they are above the sins committed by the one they are restoring. Be very clear, you are capable of committing the one sin that you believe you are least likely to commit. Do not be careless. You are to consider yourself as a candidate for falling. You are to look at yourself and recognize that whatever fault led to the person being overcome, could be in you as well. Never assume that you are not capable of falling.
Exactly what does it mean to consider oneself? The word consider is not a passive word. It is not a casual glance in a mirror. It is standing in front of the mirror and examining one’s self very carefully. It is taking time to carefully look, to see the flaws and faults that are within us. It is earnest. It is thoughtful. It is done with great concern, and care. Casual observation of one's self, does not qualify in this situation. This is a time for very serious reflection. It is a time to see ourselves, for what we truly are.
Often, when someone is trying to restore another, they spend too much time discovering the faults of the one who has fallen. The Bible says restore them, not considering their sins, but considering yourself. Restoring means bringing them back to a point of usefulness, while being more aware of your own sins, than you are theirs. Many restorers have themselves fallen, because they were paying too much attention to the sins of the fallen one, and not enough on their own. You should be more aware of your own sins, while restoring another. The more you discover their faults, the more you better be examining yourself. The more you discover the failures in their life, the more you need to be aware of your own failures.
It is a mistake to become more in tune with the sins of the one being restored, than you are with your own. In fact, one of the most important times for self reflection is when you are restoring someone else. You will fail in your efforts to restore them, if you begin to see yourself better than you really are. It is not a matter of catching their sin. It is a matter of seeing you, for how you really are. Great revival often comes when someone has fallen, and those around them begin to consider their own weaknesses, their own faults, and their own sins. True restoration brings revival, not just to the one who has fallen, but to all who are involved in restoring “such an one.”We are commanded to restore the fallen. However in the midst of that commandment is a warning, “Considering thyself.” Notice Paul does not say considering thyself lest you also sin. Rather he says considering thyself, lest you also be tempted. Paul is saying that the danger is not in the sin but in the temptation. In fact, had you been tempted by the same temptations, you may also have committed the same sins.
The Bible tells us that we are not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. We are also told that we should pray for God to deliver us from temptation. Most of us do not realize that we are far weaker than we think we are. If we had faced the same temptation that others faced, it is highly likely that we would have committed the same sins. It is sad when we think that we are somehow a better Christian, because we did not fall. What we don't understand is the temptation that the person faced. This is important, for two reasons.
It is important that we understand our own weakness. The problem is not that we will catch the sin of the one who is fallen. The problem is, that we would probably yield to the same temptation if we were faced with it. We need to understand our weaknesses. We need to take heed, when we see what temptation has done to another, to avoid the temptation, not just the sin.
It is important, because it gives us compassion for the person who has fallen. Temptations are powerful forces. It is sad that we do not have compassion for the temptation that brought about a person’s sins. There are many people who face temptations that we know nothing about. It is easy to point the finger at Peter, and say that he was weak because he denied Christ three times. Had we been there, we would have understood the fear for his own life that Peter faced. The temptation was based upon his fear. Had we faced the same temptation, we too would have denied Christ.
Considering thyself, means we face their temptation as though it was us in their place. What if we had been put in that same position? Would we really have had the strength to overcome?
Let me give you a perfect illustration.
When Jesus told his disciples that one of them would betray Him, Peter spoke up quickly, and said that it would never be him. He assumed that he was stronger than the temptation. He did not consider himself, lest he also be tempted. Now it wasn't the same sin that Jesus foretold which Peter committed. But because Peter was presumptuous regarding his own strength over temptation, he became susceptible to another temptation. Had Peter considered himself, when Jesus said that one of them would betray Him, he would have been better prepared to face his own temptation. It is when we fail to consider our own weakness, that we expose ourselves to temptation.
Perhaps, the best way to see this in a person’s life, is when they behave self righteously towards a fallen person. The moment you become self-righteous, you are exposing yourself to temptation. It may not be the same sin you will commit, but you will still be susceptible to temptation, because you did not consider yourself.
What's the attitude we should take? We should say to ourselves, “If that person could succumb to temptation, then I better be careful, because I could too.” Pride is what leads to destruction, but a haughty spirit leads to a fall Proverbs 16:18. What is a haughty spirit? It is the spirit that puts itself above others. In other words, when we look down at the one who fell, as though we could not have done it, we have a spirit that is haughty. In lifting ourselves above another, we have become susceptible to a fall.
In restoring another, we must take heed to ourselves, so that it humbles us, rather than filling us with pride.