Help for those caught, imprisoned and addicted.
In Luke 4, Jesus explained that He was the fulfillment of Isaiah 61's prophecy, and described His ministry to captives and those enslaved (caught and imprisoned, addicted by their sin). They are in some kind of prison or spiritual blindness and need to be released and to recover their sight. Cooperative rehabilitation is what they need: a two-fold expression of rehabilitation—release and recovery.
Ways to Help and Be Helped
Not everyone wants to help the person who is hurting, so when we see this desire in others it should be affirmed, especially in children.
I read an excerpt from James Dobson's newest book about a mother who was sick in bed with the flu. Her young daughter wanted so much to be a good nurse. She fluffed the pillows and brought a magazine for her mother to read. And then she even showed up with a surprise cup of tea.
When we are in trouble; when we are sick (physically, emotionally, or spiritually); or even when we are happy, God has provided game plans for us to follow in community.
In warfare the wounded are picked up and immediate care is given to them, but in cases where a soldier is captured this is more difficult. Often a search and rescue mission follows in order to find and release him/her from captivity. Likewise, as Christian soldiers we are called upon to not only do battle but be aware of those who are falling in their Christian life, or are caught in a trap of Satan. Spiritual warfare, therefore, demands not only that we stand strong but that we do what we can to see that all God's army is standing strong, too. It is for that reason we will deal with wounded and captured soldiers in this study. The tragic and permanent failure of some believers doesn't need to happen! There are biblical ways to restore a fallen brother or sister. I want to suggest wise intervention is needed to help a wounded and captive soldier. We need to put feet to our prayers and follow the instruction of 2 Timothy 2:22-26.
Have you ever known a believer who has wandered away from the clear teaching of Scripture? How about you; have you ever done so? People may be active in a local church, and yet over a period of time slowly, almost imperceptibly, wander away from the truth. At the beginning of their journey, they would never have imagined where their trek would take them, but eventually it was apparent they were wandering from the right path, the way of truth.
Suppose you had a huge bill, such as a school bill, and the payment was due right now. The only problem was, you couldn't see how in the world you would pay it. How would you feel if someone came along and said, "No problem, I'll take care of it, as well as all the rest of your expenses, no matter how long you're in school." What would that do for you? Would you be angry, sad, or crazy with joy?
Suggestions for Steps 3 and 4 of Matthew 18 What can specifically be done at step three?
The reason for this step is so that the whole congregation may be involved in an attempt to reach the offender. The reason is not so we can tell people to turn their backs on the individual. We are not to become finger-pointing and condemning people. We are to be "fellow pleaders" that there may be a change of heart, and urge the individual(s) in question to permanently cease from the sin they are involved in.
Let us view a particular church. This church, by many standards, would have been considered outstanding. The grace of God was very evident, and the people had been enriched in every way. There was great knowledge in their speaking, and their testimony about Christ was confirmed in them in an obvious way. It was said of the church that they did not lack any specific gift; all the gifts were in operation in the community, and they also had an eager expectation for the coming of Christ.
It is apparent a church is drastically limited and even defeated if the practice of loving reconciliation is not a part of that church's life—1 Cor. 6:7. What is disturbing is that in many ways believers are following the practices of those outside the church, in order to bring about resolution to differences between two opposing parties. This is seen particularly in lawsuits and divorces between Christians, as well as in general church dysfunction.