A newly married preacher was going to bless the food before a meal when he looked down and noticed all the leftovers. He said, “I think I’ve already blessed this two or three times before!”

I don’t know about you, but I like my food cooked only once. It seems to lose its flavor (and my favor) each time it’s reheated. In like manner, when the stray Christian lives out of fellowship with God, he may be “cooked” by trials and circumstances God uses to draw him back to Him. If he’s submissive to God’s reproof, the Christian will emerge through the chastening “well-done” — seasoned for service.

When the stray Christian demonstrates a change of heart, it is the church’s responsibility to take him back with loving arms. “Whispering campaigns” about the offender and his past should have no place in the church. Not only does this cause the penitent Christian to regret returning to the Lord, it “reheats” him. He’s already experienced God’s chastening. He doesn’t need a second dosage from us.

Reach out to those who seek restoration and show them brotherly love. Treat them as you would seek to be treated if you were in the same situation. Also, never become puffed up with pride, forgetting the redemptive work Christ has made in your life.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder