The subject of this passage is “bearing the burdens of another”, and it begins with the word “BRETHREN”, so right off the bat you know it is dealing with other Christians.  Paul is writing TO Christians, ABOUT Christians.  He is speaking to those who are the members of the same spiritual family.

We who have been Saved by the Blood of Calvary have a duty to the UNsaved world, to point out their faults.  But most often, the unsaved world will not be very receptive to your words of correction.

If, for example, you were to go to an unsaved doctor who is operating an abortion clinic, and tell him that the killing of unborn babies is premeditated, cold-blooded murder!…he’s probably not going to fall into a crying, slobbering mess and ask you to pray for him.  No, he is more apt to tell you that all he is doing is offering a service, a legal service, and trying to make a living for himself and his family, and then he’ll probably call a cop and try to have you arrested for interfering with his “rights”.

IF you are going to point out to someone that they are caught up in a sin, you should probably make sure THAT other person is a believer, because no one else is likely to listen to you, and there’s no guarantee that the believer will, either.

But, if you do know of someone in the Family of faith, who is overtaken in a fault or trespass, and understand that the word “overtaken” in verse 1 means literally “caught in the act”, so there is no doubt!…this is NOT to be used for someone that you think, or suspect, might be doing something wrong, but that you have verifiable proof…then you can proceed to the rest of the verse…

…if you have absolute proof that a fellow Christian is continually sinning, and if you are SPIRITUAL!…and that does NOT say “if you are saved”.  A whole lot of folks have been Saved, without ever becoming “spiritual”.  They are the ones of whom you could say “Be patient, God’s not through with me yet”…and that covers likely MOST of us!

But if you can be called ‘spiritual’, if you are making a conscious effort, every day!…to walk with the Spirit of God, and if you are bringing forth daily that “Fruit of the Spirit” that we talked about last week, that love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness…if these things are a constantly abiding presence in your life, and not just a rare occurrence, then you can call yourself ‘spiritual’.  But, it’s far better if you don’t.  Let others do that for you!

It’s like this.  There was a woman in my congregation in Florida who was a “Bapticostal”.  She was a ‘charismatic’, but instead of going to a Pentecostal church, she wanted to turn this Baptist church Pentecostal.

So one day she was giving her loud and long opinion on some subject, and someone asked her what her husband thought about it.  Her husband being a real nice guy…but she said, just as serious and righteous as it is possible to be, she said “Oh, it doesn’t matter what HE thinks.  I am ever so much more spiritual than HE is!”

But you know, as long as I knew that woman, and it was for several years, I never saw anything in her life, other than that statement saying she WAS…that would indicate that she was walking with the Spirit of God.  Just saying you’re spiritual, doesn’t make it so!

But if you truly are walking with the Spirit of God, (and you will know if you are or not!)…and IF you encounter a brother or sister in the Faith, who is caught up in a particular sin…and there is no DOUBT about it!…then your obligation is to try to restore that person.

The word ‘restore’ comes from the Greek word ‘karatizoo’, and it is a medical term that means ‘to make right’; with the idea of a broken bone being put back in alignment, or a dislocated joint being put back in place.  It was also used in Matthew 4:21, where it refers to ‘mending a net’…sewing it back to what it originally was.

So you are to restore this person, make them like they were, before they fell into this shame.  And most importantly, you are to do it with gentleness.  Literally, the word used there is ‘meekness’.  We have often looked at that word.  It is the opposite of ARROGANCE.  It is HUMBLE, and TENDER, CONSIDERATE treatment of another person.

There are more than enough people in the ranks of Christianity who have the attitude of being ‘holier than thou’.  We don’t need any more.  I knew a preacher back in Michigan who would almost have a FIT every time it was suggested that the youth group have some kind of activity for the boys and girls.  If a swim party was suggested, he flatly refused to allow it.  If an over-night camp-out was suggested, he wouldn’t let the girls go.

And later it was found out the PROBLEM was, HE couldn’t keep his eyes and hands OFF the young girls…so he saddled everyone else with HIS sin.

I knew a preacher in Florida who would practically go ballistic if anyone spoke against the sins of homosexuality.  He’d tell you how UNChristian you were, for not being TOLERANT with those people.  He’d say what they were doing was only natural, that God ‘made ‘em that way’.

Then, late one night, even though he was married and had two kids, he was caught in a police raid on a known homosexual hang-out.  That kinda explained his defense of that particular sin, but the problem was, he was never charged, even though several cops I.D.’d him; so the last I heard he was still preaching in the same church.

And that’s a pretty good lead-in to the last part of verse 1, “considering yourself, lest you become tempted”.  Listen, NO-one, and I mean NO-ONE, is IMMUNE to temptation.  But many of us THINK we are.

If you were a recovering alcoholic, do you think you could go down to the local tavern, and have a beer, ‘just to be sociable’, while you talk to the guys about the evils of alcohol?  Or, if you’re an ex-junky, could you sit around, taking an occasional hit off a joint, while telling everyone how dangerous drugs are?

When dealing with the sins of another, remember that YOU are NOT immune to that sin.  And be very careful lest you become caught up in it.  Start with this…if you are a man, and you know of a woman who is trapped in some sin, it is probably not a good idea for you to confront her directly…or even to get another man to go with you.

Instead, get another woman…a spiritual woman, to help.  Or better yet, let the woman take care of it!  And you can turn that around and say that a woman should probably not confront a man about some sin.  Remember that little song we used to sing…”Be careful little eyes what you see…be careful little ears what you hear…”.

You are NOT immune, so be careful when dealing with the sins of someone else, lest you become trapped in the same sin.

In verse 2 we are told to “bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the Laws of Christ”.  “Burdens” refers to an EXTRA-heavy load; TOO much for ONE person to carry on their own.  When you see someone struggling like that, we are to ‘come along side’, and share the load.  HELP them, not CONDEMN them, for trying to carry more than they are able.

The word ‘bear’ gives the impression of carrying something with endurance, of ‘finishing the task’.  But “the Law of Christ”, that’s the ways in this same book, same chapter…it’s probably even on the same page…look at chapter 5 verse 14…”For all the Law is fulfilled in one word (or statement) even this: you shall love your neighbor as yourself”.

When you see someone struggling with a sin, you are to HELP them, because you LOVE them, NOT because YOU are somehow BETTER than they are.  Because you have to realize, it might be YOU, the next time.

Do this, and you will have fulfilled “the Law of Christ”.  Jesus said in John 13:34 “By this the world shall know that you are My disciples…”, NOT because we build huge churches, or soaring cathedrals, or donate huge sums of money…NOT that we do GREAT WORKS…“By THIS shall the world know that you are My disciples; that you have LOVE one for another”!

We are told to “bear one another’s burdens”…and I’ve told you WHO that refers to…and WHY you should do it…and WHAT you should do…so now the most important part, let me try to tell you HOW to do this.

IF you are walking daily with the Spirit of God, and IF you are producing regularly the FRUIT of the Spirit…don’t get to thinking that you’re something SPECIAL, just because you are DOING what we are SUPPOSED to do.

But IF you ARE spiritual, and you encounter a brother taken up in a sin…then in GENTLENESS and HUMILITY…COMPASSIONATELY you are to HELP him to FREE himself FROM that sin.  And you are to do that, giving great care to yourself, lest you, too, become tempted.

This morning when I talked with the kids, I showed them a nice juicy apple, and told them that it had suffered a bad CUT, that would cause it to soon ROT and go bad, but they couldn’t find the cut.  Do YOU remember what it was?  It was the one that had separated the apple from the tree.

SIN separates us from God, and separation from God causes us great harm.  There’s an old story about a man who had fallen into a pit of quicksand, and he was going down quickly.  MOHAMMED came along, and saw the man in this plight.  He said “Too bad.  But this is the will of Allah.  Allah be praised” and he walked away.  Then BUDDAH came by, and saw the man in his plight, and he said “My child, you are being punished for something you did in a past life.  When you have your NEXT life, try to do better”.  And he walked away.

Then JESUS came along, and HE saw the man…and HE walked out on the surface of the quicksand, lifted the man out of the slimy mud, washed him clean with His Own Blood, and sat him down on solid ground.

JESUS will DO that, because Jesus CAN do that!  JESUS alone is WITHOUT sin, and Jesus ALONE is without temptation!  If YOU were to try that…that “walking on the surface of the quicksand to rescue the one caught IN it”…YOU will become caught as well…and then there’d be TWO to save.

You ARE supposed to RESCUE him, but DO it by THROWING him a LINE, not by JOINING him IN the trap!  Pull HIM to where YOU are, don’t try going where HE is!

You ARE a Christian!  But you are NOT Christ!  You cannot walk to where the man is, and you cannot walk away from him either.  Sin is like YEAST…it will eventually spread to everything it touches.  That’s why Jesus likened it to LEAVEN, and told His disciples to AVOID it!  Whenever it shows up among the brethren…IN the CHURCH!…it must be DEALT with, quickly, but also LOVINGLY, TENDERLY…and thoroughly.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the Law of Christ, Paul wrote.  When YOU were Saved…(and it is my sincere desire that you WERE Saved…and if not you will have a chance shortly)…but when you were Saved, when Jesus came into your life…came to you where you were, trapped in sin…and rescued you; lifted you OUT of that pit of sin you were in…washed you clean with His Own Blood…He DID that, for YOUR sake!…but NOT for you alone.

Jesus rescued you, so you could help others find that same full and free Salvation.  And He rescued you so that, WHEN you become SPIRITUAL…through worship, fellowship, the application of the Word…when you become spiritual, and walk with the Spirit of God every day, and you see a BROTHER, caught in a sin…verifiable and not just suspected!…then you are to go to that sinning brother, gently, in humility, and THROW him a ROPE, a LIFE-LINE, to help him escape FROM that snare.

And beloved, that is why REVIVAL is so important in the life of a church!  It is to help us get back to where we once WERE!  When we had first ACCEPTED that PRECIOUS gift from the Lord, and NOTHING ELSE seemed IMPORTANT!  Where we OURSELVES weren’t important!  Where it was ALL about the LORD!…and the LOST!…and the CHURCH!

We NEED to get back TO that place again!  Back TO that place that the Lord told those people in that EPHESUS church, that they had LEFT!

Where He told them “you have left your FIRST LOVE”!…that almost MAGIC place, where we discovered that the GOD Who created EVERYTHING, LOVES us!…unconditionally and undyingly, LOVES us, even though we are sinners!

Sure, I understand, the CARES and the CONCERNS of life…of making a living, of raising a family, or dealing with our bodies as they age…all that helps to MOVE us AWAY from the wonderful place, and it’s IMPORTANT that we make the EFFORT to BECOME revived!…to MAKE our way BACK TO that wonderful place, as OFTEN as we can.

And let’s START this morning, by going to CALVARY, to where the Lord of ALL, was BEATEN, and BLOODIED, and NAILED to a rough wooden CROSS, and LIFTED UP to DIE!  For MY sins!  Make it THAT personal…it was for MY sins that Jesus died!

And then look at His cold and lifeless Body, taken down from the Cross and hastily sealed away in a borrowed Tomb.

That is what we have before us this morning, the BODY, and the BLOOD, of the Crucified Savior of the world.  Who told us in John 6:54…“Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him (or her) up at the Last day”.

And symbolically this morning, that is what we are going to do.  If you are here as a soul Saved by the Sacrifice of Calvary, I will invite you to join us in this observance.

So as the deacons and deaconesses come to prepare the Table for us, I’ll ask you to listen prayerfully as I read the words of the Institution, written by Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in 1st Corinthians 11…