My girls have been walking for quite some time. It's natural for them. They don't have to think about how to walk. They just do it. However, there are times when they're walking along, and for one reason or another, trip and fall. If they fall at home, it's usually not a big deal. They jump back and up, and scamper along. But if one of them falls in public, it can become a dramatic scene. The level of drama that follows is usually in direct proportion to the age of the one who falls. For instance, if my oldest child falls in public, it's going to be a much bigger deal than if my youngest falls. There will be tears, embarrassment, and an all-around big scene.
If we're in public and one of my children falls, I rush to her side. I know she's more than likely fine...not so much as a scratch. But I also know my girls get embarrassed when other people are around. So I hover, making sure to be extra comforting to let her know that Mom is right there, and to encourage her to get up and keep going.
As Christians, we're called to do the same. Whether our brothers or sisters are long-time Christians who know how to walk the walk, or new Christians who are still learning to walk, they're all going to occasionally trip and fall. Some falls may be more dramatic than others. Either way, we have a responsibility to restore them in gentleness. We are to show compassion and love. We are to encourage them. Sometimes we're to walk alongside them until they've been restored.
Imagine if one of my children fell, and I stood around with everyone else and watched without lending a hand. What if told them how clumsy they were, or that they should be such good walkers that they shouldn't fall? What if I just walked away?
You'd be appalled at my behavior, wouldn't you?
Yet we do that to our Christian family members so often. When one falls, we join the crowd of condemnation. We even turn our backs and walk away. We no longer want to be associated with that one. We even gossip about how long they've been a Christian...they should've known better. And they more than likely did know better. But knowing and doing are different. And unless we encourage them to get up and try again, knowing and doing may never meet.
Will you make the decision to stop, hover over, comfort, and encourage one who has fallen?