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Honey or Vinegar?
by Barbara Thompson Young
Not For Sale
Author requests article critique


Honey or Vinegar?

I love the Bible for many reasons; one in particular is the fact
that somewhere between the first page and the last, is the answer
to every question we might have.

Today, a certain question has been rumbling around in my spirit.
“How am I to treat a brother or sister who commits a sin?” Ignore them?
Pretend I don’t see them? Tell them how wrong they are, and they’re
going to hell in a hand-basket?

In Galatians 6:1, it says, “If someone is caught in a sin, you who are
spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also
may be tempted."

Restoration is at the very heart of our God. He never seeks to condemn
or destroy. He values restoration so much, he gave us, his children the
ministry of reconciliation.

What an honor! We flawed human beings have the ability to help
bring a spiritual sibling back into friendship with God. I don’t know
about anyone else, but this fact makes me tremble.

We “saints” react in various ways when we see someone who calls him or
herself a “Christian” commit a sin. Horror of horrors, how could they do
such a thing!!! Regardless of the many ways we may respond, truth is,
the Bible way is the best way.

When we look at the above Scripture, it is plain to see it is possible for
anyone to sin; those who are spiritual are to do the restoration; they are
to do it gently; they are to look at their own heart.

Not everyone can restore. The Bible says, “You who are spiritual…should
restore him…gently.” So, we see who is to do the restoring, and how they
are to do it. This has been a big problem in our spiritual family. Everyone
thinks they can restore. Wrong. Our Father knew if we did not attempt
to restore “gently”, we could possibly destroy, instead of restore.

Am I spiritual? Do I walk in the Spirit? Do I live in the Spirit?
If I do, the fruit, or evidence will be seen in how I treat those who sin.
If I am not attempting to bring them back to spiritual health by my
“gentleness”, the truth is, I have no business pointing out their sin.
I will do more harm than good to their spirit. I will be acting out of a spirit
of “self” righteousness.

Paul, the Apostle cautions those who see their sibling sin, and respond to
what they see. He warns, “Watch yourself, or you also, may be tempted.”

If I am going to be so bold as to point out one’s sin, I must first be careful
to look at my own heart. My attitude must be one of humility, knowing
I am not above being tempted.

If I am spiritual, I have been given the honor of helping to bring back one
who sins, to spiritual health. The old saying, “You can catch more flies
with honey than you can with vinegar”, can be applied here.

If my heart is to see my brother or sister restored back to a right relationship
with God, I will not only be careful what I say and do, I will be careful as
to how I say and do it.

My words should always be spoken, or written in love, with my ultimate goal
being to restore. There’s only one way it can be accomplished, and that is-
g-e-n-t-l-y. If I respond any other way, all my words will be in v-a-i-n.

In recapping,

Q When we see a member of our family sin, how are we to respond?
A. We are to help restore them back into a healthy relationship with God.

Q. Who is to restore them?
A. You who are spiritual.

Q. How is the restoration process to be done?
A. Gently, with humility.

Q. Who are we to look at?
A. Ourselves (our own heart), lest we too, be tempted.

Prayer: “Father, before I, by my words attempt to point out another’s sin,
help me to first look at my own heart. If I have not learned the art of
gentleness, please help me to be silent and pray for my sibling.


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...in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them... 2 Cor 5:19

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Member Comments
Member Date
Christy Poindexter 15 Feb 2005
This is well written and so crucial to the health of the church. Too often we desire mercy for ourselves and practice law when it comes to others. -Christy Poindexter
Joyce Poet 31 Jan 2005
As I read your article, I was immediately reminded of I Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. And Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. I also join you in prayer, both for yourself and for me. Thanks for sharing. I'm certain that we all needed this bit of wisdom.
Brenda Libby 31 Jan 2005
This is an exceptional article! Very well written. Grammar and spelling very accurate. You may want to check the format as the structure of the sentences got broken a bit when you submitted it. This is an issue that many tend to forget: we are not to be "judgemental" in helping our brother/sister who may have gotten entangled with wordly things and whose spiritual life may be suffering due to it. But we are to - in love - admonish them and bring them back to the flock. Excellent! Pastor Brenda Libby
Sharon McClean 31 Jan 2005
Oh Barbara, what a wealth of wisdom you have written here. What a humbling and difficult responsiblity. I too will join you in prayer. This is something that haunts my heart. Blessings, Sharon
Mitzi Busby 31 Jan 2005
Barbara, You spoke the Word in love. Restore them gently, love them unconditionally.
Honey Stone 31 Jan 2005
This is one I need to bookmark and read from time to time. It hits the heart good.


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