“And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.”
One of the greatest disappointments I have with believers today is their treatment of those who have fallen in sin. I am so thankful that the LORD gave us a great example of how to treat the fallen. In the verse above, God treated the fallen Israel properly with a hope that they would return to Him. Though Israel continually hardened their neck and rebelled against Him, He always treated them in such a manner that they would want to come back to Him when their sin brought them to the point that they came to themselves. If you are going to be a believer who restores the fallen, you must learn to treat them in the same manner by which God treated Israel. Let me point out six ways of how you should copy God’s treatment of the fallen.
First, be more ready to forgive than to condemn. I love that the verse above says, “…but thou art a God ready to pardon…” Are you more ready to condemn or to forgive? The person closest to God will be more ready to forgive the fallen than they are to condemn and criticize them. Your proximity to God is revealed by whether you forgive or condemn.
Second, treat the fallen with dignity and respect. God was “gracious” to Israel which simply means He treated them with dignity and respect. The fallen are still humans who should be treated with dignity and respect and not with spite and contempt. You will more likely have a chance to restore the fallen if you are gracious and not rude towards them.
Third, don’t continually punish the fallen for their sin. God was “merciful” to Israel, which means He was willing to end the punishment. At some point the punishment phase of the fallen must end. Many fallen believers have quit because people won’t let them get up. Stop holding the fallen down. Be merciful enough to let them get up and start over.
Fourth, hold back on your anger; you could be next. God was “slow to anger” and not quick to show His displeasure. You had better be careful how angry you get with the fallen because you might be the next one whose sin is discovered. The best way to treat the fallen is to treat them as if they were you. Being slow to anger will keep you from destroying the spirit of the fallen to the point that they will no longer try to be restored.
Fifth, treat the fallen in a manner to restore and not to destroy. God was kind to Israel, and you should be kind to the fallen. If you’re kind to the fallen believer, you will gain their respect and a lifelong friend with whom you can serve the LORD for many years.
Sixth, don’t forsake them in their greatest time of need. God never forsook Israel, and you should never forsake the fallen. The greatest concern of the fallen is who is their true friend. It is always better to be there to pick up the fallen than it is to be the person who tries to destroy them.
We are in a spiritual battle which means people are going to become casualties. Be careful not to let the wound of the war cause you to shoot your own, but be there to restore them so that they can stand with you in the spiritual warfare again.