I’m struggling with this one. I have a dear friend who is perplexed by an ongoing drug addiction. He appeared to have it under control until things in his life started spiraling out of his control, and he gave in to his old habit again.
So the Bible says that if one of my brothers slips up I’m supposed to restore him gently. How exactly does one do that? I bounced between so many emotions during the last 48 hours: anger at this addiction, sorrow for what my friend is going through, heaviness at what he’s doing to himself and his family, hatred at the devil for his evil tricks, and a passion to see him whole and healthy and free again. Then my own thoughts have baffled me: “How do I gently restore my brother? What does restoration look like?”
Restoration is an interesting Greek word. It can mean setting a broken bone; mending torn fishing nets; manning a fleet of ships; or supplying an army with its provisions.
Restoration is NOT canceling a debt or removing the consequence for someone’s actions. I like what Dave Anderson wrote, “One of the best lessons you can teach your people is that when they choose a behavior they choose the consequences for that behavior.”
Restoration is feeling the pain of what’s been broken or defeated, learning the lesson from that, and then repairing the break or deficiency in such a way that it won’t break or be defeated again. I have the responsibility and the privilege of doing some mending for my friend.
What about gentle? Over time this word has come to mean something like wishy-washy, no backbone, no guts. Gentle originates from the Latin word gentilis which means belonging to the same family or clan. To be gentle is to be strong enough to respond in a controlled manner to someone who is just like me. Gentleness is strength under control.
I hope I’m gentle enough to restore my friend, to mend what is broken in him so he never has to be defeated by this addiction again. He has some consequences to face. But I am committed to helping him carry this heavy load all the way to the finish line.
Check it out—
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1-2)
Gentle restoration is hard work. But it’s so worth the effort!
If you have any thoughts on how to gently restore a friend, I’d love to have you share them with me in the comments section.