Paul in Galatians 4:11 gives one of the most scathing rebukes in Scripture when he tells the Galatians, “I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.”
Paul here is not saying they have lost their Salvation of course, but their testimony has been compromised. And he had pretty much wasted his time with them.
In the next verse, Paul’s attitude changes completely.
He begs them to be restored (“be as I am”), and promises that he wants to forgive them (“you have not injured me at all”).
Paul here is illustrating a very important Biblical principle. Confrontation is always followed by an invitation.
Biblical confrontation is an absolutely necessary thing for Believers. This doesn’t just refer to church discipline as we find in Matthew 18, but day to day “exhortation” of one another (Hebrews 3:13). Part of Christian love is being honest and clear if a brother or sister in Christ is struggling with a sin.
That confrontation is loving because the goal isn’t just repentance, but restoration. This means there must be an opportunity for them to turn from their sin, and walk in newness of life.
When I was about five my father gave me an illustration of pairing confrontation with invitation. He’d had lots of trouble getting me to go to sleep, and over time my attitude became more and more stubborn. Finally one night I told my mom and dad I’d decided to run away from home.
This of course was just an attempt to delay bedtime, but my father called my bluff. He opened the door, waited me to walk outside, and shut it behind me!
As my father looked out the window (and my mother cried her eyes out) I walked to the end of the sidewalk, and stopped.
After waiting for a while he opened the door again and said, “John would you like to come inside?”
I gratefully took his offer, and NEVER tried running away again!
The application to life is like the Apostle Paul we must confront sin in the lives of our brothers and sisters. But we must also open the door, and invite them back in.
Many proud, arrogant souls are broken when the punishment of God comes. And like the prodigal son, they find themselves taking the long walk home, wondering if acceptance will come.
May they find the door swung wide open, and a father running to welcome them home.