Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 21 2013 - Galatians 6:1-18 – The work of restoration

Just eight days ago we were at the end of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, commenting on Paul’s use of the interesting verb καταρτιζω as he exhorts the Christians there to “be perfect”. As I mentioned in the notes for 13th September, we first encounter this verb in the New Testament in Matthew 4:21 (and the parallel in Mark 1:9), where it is used of James and John “mending” their nets. Paul’s prayer is for God to continue his work of repairing the lives of these Christians, restoring them to be all that he designed them to be and making them fit for his use.

This verb is not particularly common (it occurs 13 times in the New Testament), but here we encounter it again at the end of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Now, however, it occurs in the context of our relationships with one another. In Galatians 6:1 Paul writes, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” The verb here translated in the NIV as “restore” is this same verb used of the fishermen with their nets.

As God enables us by his Spirit, we are to be engaged in God's business of restoring damaged lives. As a fisherman with his nets or as a skilled restorer of a great work of art, we are to assist in the removal of grime, the repairing of damage and the restoring of the person to all God designed them to be.

What do you do with an old tangled and torn fishing net? You can repair it or you can throw it out and look for a new one. Those whose lives God has touched may become mired again in sin and damaged and broken through use and misuse, but they are never beyond repair. God does not give up on us; we are not to give up on one another. We need to be about God’s business of repairing damaged lives. Oh, and by the way, just in case we get to thinking that we are the spiritual ones and others need our help, Paul adds, “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (6:3). We also need healing – the restoring hand of God and restorative ministry of our brothers and sisters.

Paul reminds us that our faith and hope centre upon Christ crucified and risen. His death means that this fallen world with all its deceitful attractions has been crucified to us and we to it (6:14). His resurrection calls us into the life of the new creation (6:15). Christ crucified and risen is the foundation for God’s restoration project – his work of making all things new. We are not only part of this project, we have been engaged as members of the project team. We need to help and encourage one another to be free from the old and to live as those who have been restored in Christ. We need to work together for the restoration of the world.

The world will not be transformed by more laws and better politicians – though we should be thankful for such interim measures. The world can be restored only by the power of its creator and by a people empowered by the Spirit of the crucified and risen Messiah.

Lord, get us on board with your great restoration project. Make your church a healing and restorative community, where broken lives are put back together, the wounded are healed and the sheep that have gone astray are brought back to the Good Shepherd. Restore your work of art and fulfil your purpose in and through us.

Peter Misselbrook