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6. Restore With Gentleness

How does restoring others lead to reconciliation?

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:1-2

What does it mean to restore?

To restore means to bring healing and aid to someone who is ensnared in sin. Two questions come to mind as we think about Paul’s instruction in Galatians 6.

Hover over the pictures below to answer:

Who needs to be restored?

  • One who sins against you (Matthew 18:15).

  • Others who may be ensnared by their sin (see Philippians 4:2-3).

  • Anyone who wanders from the truth (James 5:19-20).

The one who is “caught” in a transgression needs to be restored. This includes:

Who is called to restore others?

Those called to restore others include:

  • Those who are spiritual (Galatians 6:1-2).

  • The one who is sinned against (Matthew 18:15).

  • Fellow members in the church (see Philippians 4:2-3).

  • Believers who see one wandering from the truth (James 5:19-20).

The kind of restoration needed most by one who is ensnared in sin is forgiveness from God, which cleanses us from our unrighteousness. This healing restores our relationship with God and opens the door for restoring our relationship with others

(Psalm 32:1-5; 2 Peter 1:9; 1 John 1:8-9).

Applying Matthew 18

In his commentary on Matthew 18, Jeffrey Gibbs notes, “Jesus is teaching about an extreme form of caring, of compassion, of concern for a fellow disciple in a situation

of terrible need.”[1]


[1] Gibbs, Jeffrey A. Concordia Commentary: Matthew 11:2-20:34. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2010. 916.

Ancient statue of Jesus Christ - the Goo

In his commentary on Matthew 18, Jeffrey Gibbs notes, “Jesus is teaching about an extreme form of caring, of compassion, of concern for a fellow disciple in a situation

of terrible need.”[1]


[1] Gibbs, Jeffrey A. Concordia Commentary: Matthew 11:2-20:34. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2010. 916.

Looking at the entire chapter of Matthew 18, Christ stresses the importance of restoring those whose sins are causing them to wander away from God.


Jesus teaches how to address stubborn unrepentance in Matthew 18:15-20:


  • Verse 15: Go in private.

  • Verse 16: Take one or two others along with you.

  • Verse 17: Tell it to the church.

  • Verse 18: Treat him as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Click on the following to see how Matthew 18:15-20 is sometimes misunderstood and misapplied as reflected in these false assumptions

It's a quick resolve

WRONG: This is a quick three-step process, after which the person should be kicked out of the church. CORRECT: Restoration is rarely quick and easy – it requires loving patience and gentle persistence!


I tried that once!

WRONG: Going one-on-one means a single attempt to let the other person know what he has done wrong (such as sending an email or letter, making a phone call, or even an in-your-face confrontation). CORRECT: The original Greek verb for “go” means to keep on going – it requires persistence and patience!


Circle the wagons

WRONG: Others to bring along as witnesses mean those who agree with you and/or who have authority over the other person and can pressure him to do what you want. CORRECT: To give the best opportunity for repentance and reconciliation, chose someone whom the other person respects and trusts.


Just sayin'

WRONG: “Tell it to the church” means broadcasting your accusations, including utilizing verbal gossip and social media. CORRECT: In “tell it to the church,”  Christ is speaking of that person’s congregation, which is responsible for providing him or her with spiritual care. Using public means such as social media broadcasts is not about restoration with gentleness, but about hurting another’s reputation!


Ignore & avoid

WRONG: Those who are treated as unbelievers should be shunned. CORRECT: On the contrary, the unrepentant now becomes the object of our evangelism. He or she is in desperate need of Gospel healing!


Whatever happens, we are called to be faithful to God and His Word. Paul instructs us:


If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all (Romans 12:18).


In other words:

(click each box to reveal answer)

What is our ultimate responsibility?

What is NOT our responsibility?

Live peaceably with all, so far as it depends on us.

Changing other people’s hearts.

What if the other person is not a Christian?

The Bible’s instruction for dealing with someone in conflict applies to both Christians and non-believers.


You first go in private to confess your sins, forgive as you have been forgiven, and restore with gentleness. If necessary, you then bring one or two others along, all with the idea of restoring with gentleness.


However, the direction to “tell it to the church” does not apply since a non-believer is not accountable to the church.

Stack of colorful books of different rel

How does restoring others relate to reconciliation?

Reconciliation requires confession and forgiveness. Between two people, that usually means mutual confession and forgiveness.


  • We can begin the process of reconciliation by confessing our own sins, seeking forgiveness.


  • The other person may forgive us as God has forgiven him.


  • We seek to restore with gentleness by helping another see how he has sinned. When the other person repents, we can proclaim God’s forgiveness, assuring him of his reconciliation to God.


  • We can also restore the other person as God has forgiven us.


... when confession and forgiveness are shared and the relationship is healed.

Reconciliation occurs ...

(click to flip)

How are others affected when Christians fight but fail to reconcile?

The Bible identifies how it affects others in   1 Corinthians 6:1-8 and Galatians 5:13-15


To People Outside the Church ...

Our witness to Christ is diminished when Christians fight and remain unreconciled.

The whole church suffers when unity is disrupted by broken relationships.

Church Congregation Service Blurred.jpg

To People Inside the Church ...

How are others affected when Christians fight but then reconcile?

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:35

Happy friends from diverse cultures and

To People Outside the Church ...

Church People Believe Faith

To People Inside the Church ...

May the God of encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:5-6

Journal Reflections

Take a moment to journal your personal reflections from this section, “Restore With Gentleness.”  Apply these questions to a conflict from your own life (current or past).

Review Galatians 6:1. Identify the sins that you believe have ensnared the other person.

If these were your sins, describe what another person could do that would help free you from your entanglement.

Write a prayer seeking God’s guidance for both of you.

Other Reflections:

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