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What do you do with a sinner? Restore him!

July 7, 2013

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Proper 9 (Seventh Sunday after Pentecost)               Trinity Lutheran Church

7 July 2013                                                                         Murdock, NE


+ Jesu Juva +


Galatians 6:1-10, 14-18


Well, there he goes again.  Paul the pastor, sent by the Lord, doing his minister stuff.  Always the pastor par excellence.  Quite practical and useful.  Providing the high pastoral care for the Galatians and for us here at Trinity.


After all, every congregation is full of what kind of people?  Sinners.  Sinners sin.  Sinners make mistakes.  On purpose.  Not so on purpose.  They sin among their families.  At their work.  At school.  And even in the congregation.


What do you do with sinners?  In your family?  In your country and community?  And especially in your congregation – “the household of faith”?  I know how it normally works in a congregation.  Someone in the congregation makes a mistake, misspeaks, or causes offense.  And what do we do?  We blow them off.  Won’t have anything to do with them.  Or vice versa.  When the pastor makes a mistake or misspeaks, usually people just quite coming to church.


Paul, however, gives the shocking, counter cultural, and high pastoral care answer.  Pastor Paul states:  “You — you Holy Spirit-filled believers in Christ — you take the sinner in your midst that has sinned – AND RESTORE HIM!  Gently.  With great care!” 


Did you catch that?  How remarkable!  How Christian!  How Holy Spirit-filled!  “Restore the sinner.  And do it compassionately!”


The temptation is to do just the opposite, isn’t it?  Ignore.  Hate.  Throw out.  Have nothing to do with.  But never restore, that is, forgive!


So, we are given to die.  To the desires of our sinful nature.  Die to the sin of treating sinners as they deserve!


Love takes risks.  It is bold.  It is reckless.  Audacious.  Love forgives the sinner.  Even / especially in the “household of faith.”


Because of Jesus.  Who died for you – a sinner.


You see a sinner.  You live with sinners.  You worship with sinners.  And you are “tempted” to believe that you are better.  You always score yourself higher on the grading scale.  “Oh, I’m not perfect,” you say, “but I’m certainly not as bad as that sinner over there!  Or that one over there!  Or that one over there!”


Newsflash!  You’re not any better when it comes to sin and sinning.  You, me, and everyone have that market cornered.  “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”


Be careful what you “sow.”  If you “sow” “I can’t stand you sinner!  Get out of my sight,” you will “harvest” a sinner who remains in his sin.  But if you “sow” the words “I know you’ve sinned but I’m here to forgive you,” you will “reap” a brother or sister.


So Jesus comes to you and me — sinners.  And His bloody wounds are showing.  His hands.  His feet.  The holes.  His side.  The gash.  His blood that cleanses you from all sin.  Yes, it’s Jesus.  And He says:  “Yes, I know you’re a sinner.  I know your sin.  But I’m here to tell you — I FORGIVE YOU!  I don’t hold it any of it against you.  Because I’ve answered for all of it.  I love you no matter what.”    


What will you do with the Lord’s forgiveness?  Pastor Paul knows.  “Restore those who sin – gently.”  And that is done by forgiving the sinner who sins.  Just as you have been gently and recklessly forgiven by the Lord Jesus Himself.


“But Reverend, if I forgive that rotten sinner, he’ll just go right back and do it again.  He will take advantage of me.  And I will look like a total fool!”


Yes, that’s the chance love takes.  Forgiveness suffers itself to be rejected or manipulated.  Or, on the other hand, all heaven may just break loose – the kingdom of God may spill over into your life with sinners and Satan is defeated as you declare Christ’s mercy to a fellow sinner.  The forgiveness you gently speak may just melt the sinner’s heart and you may just win your brother or sister.


The text says: “While we have the opportunity, do good to all people, and especially to those with whom you go to church – the household of the faith.”


You no longer live.  Christ lives in you.  You have been crucified with Christ.  Your life is conformed to Him who dwells in you with His Spirit.  The world’s ways are not your ways.  In the church and in your lives you operate differently with fellow sinners.  For “the world has been crucified to you and you to the world.” 


So the shape of your life is faith in Son of God Jesus who loved you and gave Himself into death on the cross for you.  And your life is the life of self-sacrificial love for others.  Forgiving those who sin against you and doing good to anyone you meet, as well as fellow believers in Christ.  What great joy to be the Lord’s instrument of His forgiveness and love for sinners who so desperately need it.


And with that there’s no “boasting in ourselves” but only in the “cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”    As always.  For Jesus is everything.


In the Name of Jesus.

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