A Look At Martin Luther’s Thoughts On the Opening Verse of Galatians Chapter 6
Brothers, if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. The apostle is not speaking here about errors and offenses against doctrine, but about far lesser sins into which people fall not deliberately but through weakness. The words is caught in imply being tricked by the devil or by the sinful nature. The saints in this life now and then, through the enticement of the devil, fall into impatience, envy, wrath, error, doubt, distrust, and so on, for Satan always attacks the purity of doctrine through sects and dissensions, as well as attacking soundness of life with daily offenses. Paul therefore teaches how those who have fallen should be dealt with — namely, those who are strong should raise them up and restore them gently.
It is especially good for us who are in the ministry of the Word to know these things, lest while were are trying to touch everything to the quick, we forget the fatherly and motherly affection that Paul here requires of those who have charge of souls. He gives an example of this precept in 2 Corinthians 2, where he says that it was enough for the man who had been excommunicated to have been rebuked by many people, and that they ought now to forgive him and comfort him, lest he be swallowed up with excessive sorrow. Therefore, Paul beseeches them to be loving toward that man. Pastors and minsters must indeed sharply rebuke those who have fallen; but when they see that those persons are sorrowful for their offenses, they should begin to raise them up again, to comfort them, and to mitigate their faults as much as they can — yet through mercy only, which they must set against sin, lest those who have fallen are swallowed up depression. As the Holy Spirit is precise in maintaining and defending the doctrine of faith, so he is mild and pitiful in forbearing and mitigating people’s sins, if those who have committed them are sorrowful for them. Those who are hard-hearted and obstinate, who fearlessly continue complacently in their sins, we must rebuke sharply. But those who are caught in a sin and are sorry for their fault must be raised up and admonished by those who are spiritual, but gently and not in the zeal of severe justice. A brother ought to comfort his fallen brother with a loving and meek spirit. And the one who has fallen must listen to the word of him who raises him up and must believe it, for God would not have those who are bruised to be cast away, but wants them to be raised up. God has bestowed more on them than we have done — the life and blood of his own Son. Therefore, we ought to also receive, aid, and comfort such people with all mildness and gentleness.