Loving people means keeping them accountable. In this scripture, Paul is talking about the importance of helping each other. Here he is saying that whoever is intimate with the Father's heart, has the authority to act in His character. When you see people around you acting in ways that don't align with the Father's heart, how do you often respond? It's easy to turn the other cheek and let things slide, but this isn't what Paul is suggesting for us to do. Paul is suggesting that as children of God we have the power to gently restore the people around us. This doesn't mean that we should cast out judgment and point fingers left and right. That is falling into the bad representations of how some non-believers might view Christians. By restoring the people around us, God's heart behind Paul's words is to not let our brothers and sisters fall into even greater sin. Instead, we should be empathetic towards others and encourage them to walk in the identity God has for them.
the two mindsets about accountability
There are often two mindsets that we fall into when thinking about the act of accountability. Either we as people are quick to point out the bad things in others; or we ignore people's actions altogether because we are afraid of not being accepted. However, both mindsets have a shift in focus. It's not about the sin; it's about the person. Even more so, it's not about you it's about them. Jesus was the restorer of humankind. He was tempted like us but never acted in the ways of the flesh. Instead, Jesus' focus was all about the Father. His life was not of His own, and His purpose was wrapped up in His love for us. When Paul says to practice carrying each other's burdens, this means that we need to shift our focus from us to Him. Once you put yourself in someone else's shoes, you start seeing that person the way God sees them. More importantly, you want that person to see themselves for who God created them to be.
We must be people of our word. If Paul is saying that those who are spiritual should restore others gently, then we as spiritual people also need to hold ourselves accountable. Imagine how hard giving advice would be if you didn't fully believe that what you were saying would help. Our lives should be active testimonies of God working in us. If there are things that hinder our relationship with God, then our roles should be to seek counsel from those walking in a greater spiritual maturity. We need to give our Christian community a chance to fight for us; because we are also worth being set free. We don't have to strive in our relationship with God. We just need to give Him the space to move.
Holy Spirit, impart gentleness over me so that I may love the people around me the way you have called me to. Use me to develop others into the daughters and sons you created them to be, so that sin has no power over them anymore. I trust you above all things. God let your will be done.
- Sarah C.