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     Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of ChristGal. 6:1-2

Heavenly Father, we come to your throne of grace this morning praying for friends who are entangled in sinful messes. Grant us wisdom and grace to love them well. None of us naturally likes confrontation, and we decry self-righteous busybodies who show up in our lives like self-appointed prosecuting attorneys. But this Scripture paints a different picture and presents a different spirit.

If we saw a friend stepping close to a pit of rattlesnakes, we wouldn’t hesitate to warn them. Help us hate sin enough, and love our friends enough, to risk getting involved. Better to endure the messiness than to watch another life or marriage simply go down.

It’s not about a rush to judgment, but about a journey to restoration. Help us to listen before launching, and grant us long-term presence. Some “entanglements” take quite a while to get disentangled; and we may have to carry some burdens longer than we realize, or want. Father, grant us the power of the Holy Spirit and a greater measure of the love of Jesus. Indeed, we will need much of your grace to do this well.

Keep us humble and expectant. Those who remove specks from the eyes of others most effectively are those most aware of the log in their own eyes. And keep us tuned into our own “temptability”—less we get lured into the very same sin as our friends. None of us is beyond the need of your grace, and none of us is beyond the reach of your grace.

Our joy is in remembering that Jesus is the great Restorer, not us. It’s the law of Christ we are fulfilling, his yoke we are bearing, and his story that’s being written. So fill us with hope—fill us with the hope of the gospel.

Lastly, Father, we praise you for churches that are stepping up and are seeking to do this hard and heart work of discipline and restoration. Increase their tribe and bless their endeavors. It’s never easy. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ holy and loving name.

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Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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