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Monday, June 2, 2014


Photo by; Grant Cochrane

When a fellow Christian has sinned and repented, what should our attitude be? There are two parts to a correct response: 
  1. Be more vigilant in our own Christian life. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).
  2. Restore him to fellowship. Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted (Galatians 6:1).

The Bible gives us some wonderful illustrations of restoration.

One is the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. Jesus begins, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. . . . The younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. The younger son spent all his money and ended up feeding pigs. He was hungry, so hungry that he wanted to eat the pigs’ food. When he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! . . . And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father threw a big party instead. He was so thankful to have his son back again! The older son was jealous and said to his father, As soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. The father explained that the elder son would inherit everything, but that it was appropriate to rejoice, for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

There are several important points to notice in this parable:
  • The younger son was a son. The parable is about a Christian and his Father, God.
  • The son sinned. We know that from the phrase riotous living and the older son’s statement that he had spent his inheritance with harlots. We also know because the son said he had sinned against heaven and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
  • The son came back to his father. This is significant, especially since it’s an allegory of the sinner coming back to God and begging forgiveness.
  • The Father received the son again. We see love, forgiveness, and rejoicing here. It is the same when we return to God after sinning. Notice that the father was actually watching for his son to return to him.

The prodigal son suffered hard consequences of his sin:
  • He had already spent all of his inheritance.
  • He had ruined his testimony.
  • His sin and shame were public news.

The good consequence is this: the prodigal was restored to his father in love.


Another is the story told in the little New Testament book of Philemon. It is the true story in the form of a letter from the Apostle Paul to Philemon about an escaped slave, Onesimus. Philemon is the man who owned Onesimus. Onesimus is a believer in Christ, now—one of Paul’s converts. Paul asks Philemon to take him back as a brother, not as a servant. He adds, receive him as myself. If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account. Paul sends the letter by Onesimus, and we can be sure the outcome was restoration and welcome.


How should we react to believers in our churches who have strayed and returned, repentant?
  • Receive them in love.
  • Help them as brothers/sisters in Christ. Have no problem fellowshipping with them. Show them we care.
  • Don’t bring up their past. If their sin has been confessed and forsaken, God forgave them completely. God has wiped the slate clean. We can, too.


  • Moses was a murderer.
  • Jacob was a liar and trickster.
  • Jonah rebelled against God’s call.
  • Samson was a womanizer.
  • David was an adulterer and murderer.
  • Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. 

They all paid dearly for their sins:
  • Moses went into exile for forty years.
  • Jacob had to flee for his life, and he never saw his mother again. He also reaped what he sowed in that his father-in-law tricked him.
  • Jonah “enjoyed” a fish hotel and being vomited out of the fish’s stomach.
  • Samson had his eyes gauged out and died early.
  • David’s baby, conceived in lust, died.
  • Peter wept bitterly. He was later martyred for his faith. 

But God used them!
  • Moses led over a million people out of Egypt.
  • Jacob became Israel, the father of the nation of Israel.
  • Jonah preached in Nineveh, and the whole city repented.
  • Samson was a judge in Israel.
  • David was king and God said he was a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).
  • Peter preached in Jerusalem after Pentecost, healed, and raised Dorcas from the dead by the power of God.

Let’s restore those who have sinned and come back to the Father. Let’s show them love and compassion and help them realize their full potential for the Lord.

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