Saturday, July 24, 2021

Help Someone Home to Heaven: How to Walk with the Wayward

Help Someone Home to Heaven

Richard and Andy worked in a factory outside a west Texas town. Andy’s new faith was growing, but he told Richard his drive home was a daily battle. A few miles from his house was a fork in the road: a left turn led home, but a right took him to the strip club that had long been his escape.

One afternoon, Andy confessed he craved to go to the club after work. Before Richard left, he prayed with Andy and assured him Jesus would help him resist.

It was pouring rain when Andy began his drive. Approaching the fork in the road, he noticed something in the median. As the windshield wipers brushed aside the rain, he saw Richard standing at the fork with a large piece of cardboard. On it was an arrow pointing home. Andy turned left toward home that day, and every day since.

Richard is the kind of brother we need, and the kind of brother we all should want to be. Whether you are a man or a woman, we need help from fellow sign-holding saints to point us away from temptation and toward our heavenly home. What follows are four exhortations to help you help others home.

Resist Shallow Relationships

The path of faith must not be journeyed alone. Perseverance is a community project. God intends each of us to protect others from apostasy. We can be tempted, however, toward shallow relationships. Rather than stand in the storm as Richard did, we are tempted toward apathy. Rather than humbly confess our need as Andy did, we are tempted to avoid accountability. But beware: shallow relationships leave you susceptible to Satan’s snares.

Consider Sarah, a sister who had grown tired of being single. She had prayed and waited on God, but no one at church pursued her. So, when a non-Christian coworker began pursuing her, she felt dangerously vulnerable. Had Sarah been isolated in shallow relationships, she acknowledged that she could have fallen into Satan’s trap. Thankfully, she confessed her temptation to several Christian sisters who helped her resist his advances.

God calls believers to be committed to a deep, honest, loving church community (Hebrews 13:17). We are a body (1 Corinthians 12:12) and a family (Matthew 12:49–50; Ephesians 2:19; 1 Timothy 5:1–2), and we are entrusted with nearly forty “one-another commands” that exhort us toward deep, spiritual love. We are too weak to make it to heaven alone. This is why God gives us one another. Surround yourself with people who help you toward heaven, and love others by doing the same for them.

Remind One Another of Scripture

Sin seduces us away from God, but Scripture keeps us spiritually sober. Consider Solomon’s warning regarding the dangers of the adulteress: “My son, be attentive to my wisdom . . . for the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword” (Proverbs 5:1, 3–4). Sin assures us that indulgence brings delight. Scripture warns that sin’s end is bitterness and destruction.

We must remind one another of these truths. As the author of Hebrews says, “Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). Sisters, remind each other that pleasure isn’t found in forbidden lovers, but “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Brothers, remind one another that pornography’s folly is empty and that Jesus promised, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).

The broad road of destruction is marked by sin’s lies. Hold up the sign of Scripture and point one another toward the narrow way that leads home.

Rejoice in One Another’s Sanctification

One way sin lures believers into its web is through discouragement. When we doubt God’s love for us or disbelieve that he’s working in us, we are susceptible to the tempter’s traps. Encouragement, however, is a potent antidote to sin’s snare.

Several years ago, I became discouraged by an ongoing battle with sin and felt like I was never going to get past it. But God used the encouragement of a friend to help me. He assured me that I needed to keep growing but pointed out how far God had brought me. The Lord used his encouragement to help me keep trusting God and fighting sin.

Celebrate God’s work in others’ lives, especially in the lives of struggling saints. Point out evidence of his saving grace in them, and encourage them to keep growing (1 Thessalonians 1:4–10; 4:10). Help them thank God for their sanctification (2 Thessalonians 2:13) and take joy in their salvation (3 John 3–4). Rejoice in their sanctification and remind them that God has promised to finish the work of making them like Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

Rescue One Another from Straying

Sadly, some of our fellow brothers and sisters will stray into prolonged patterns of sin. When they do, we have a calling to attempt a rescue. “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19–20).

The church is to be marked by love that seeks to save one another from sin’s snare. We mimic the Good Shepherd, who sought us, when we go after those who stray. Is there anyone who needs you to seek them out? Has anyone strayed into sin that you’ve neglected to pursue? If you fell into sin, who knows and loves you enough to pursue you?

Christlike love seeks to rescue one another and restore each other to the Shepherd. Pray for straying sheep (Luke 15:3–7). Pursue them in love (John 13:34–35). Reason with them from God’s word (2 Timothy 3:16–17). Warn them about the dangers of hardening their hearts against God (Hebrews 3:12–14).

As you aim to rescue, remember Paul’s counsel to the Galatians: “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).

Be certain that gentleness guides your rescuing efforts. Resist impatience and harshness (James 3:17). Consider how gentle Jesus has been with you (Matthew 11:28). Guard yourself from the temptations of self-righteous judgmentalism (Galatians 5:15, 26) and potentially falling into the same sin they have (1 Corinthians 10:1–13).

Almost Home

The journey home is long, and at times grueling. But God is faithful to bring us into our heavenly home (1 Thessalonians 4:16–18). He will use others to help you fight sin, and he will use you to help others. So, keep resisting, keep reminding, keep rejoicing, and keep rescuing.

Do not lose heart. We’re almost Home.



from Desiring God http://rss.desiringgod.org/link/10732/14647356/help-someone-home-to-heaven
via DG