Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairsMatthew 3:1-3 (ESV)
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the
wilderness of Judea,
3:2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
3:3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.'"
John the Baptist was preaching and telling others according to what the Lord had revealed to him. He did not yet know the full extent of the gospel. He had not yet known what Jesus as the Messiah would do. Yet he was obedient in proclaiming what the Lord had revealed to him so far. This is a pattern for us, to carry the message that we have known from God to others, to the extent that we have known and experienced it to be from God.Luke 22:31-34 (ESV)
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,"
22:32 "but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
22:33 Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.”
22:34 Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”
This is a passage from the upper room where Jesus and the disciples celebrated the Last Supper before the crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus tells of Peter's denial, and adds an interesting admonition in verse 32. Jesus tells Peter to strengthen his brothers when he turns back to the Lord. This is very consistent with what we try to do in the 12th step. We try to help those who have suffered with the same addictive behaviors, to encourage them with the Experience, Strength, and Hope (ESH) that we have found through working the steps and thus deepening our relationship with the Lord.Galatians 6:1-2 (ESV)
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you
who are spiritual should
restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on
yourself, lest you too be
6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Having gone through the 12 steps ourselves, we should have gained some measure of spirituality. We should be able to identify to some extent with those who the apostle Paul here is addressing as "you who are spiritual", especially as we compare ourselves to those who are still caught up in their addictive behaviors. As such, we are admonished to "restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted." One of the beauties of the 12 step program is that we have been given a structured set of steps through which we can help to restore "such a one" who has fallen into a fault, into destructive and addictive behaviors. Through working through the steps ourselves, we have insights and wisdom that we can share with others as they try to find freedom, healing and recovery. The attitude here is important, though, as we are to do it in a "spirit of meekness". With such an attitude on our part, then our offer to help is usually much more welcome to those in need than would be an attitude of arrogance or self-righteousness. Also, an attitude of meekness reminds us again of our own need for God in our life and will help us to not fall back into our own addictive behaviors and thought patterns. This is vital so that while we are helping others we will also be doing self-reflection on how God and the program have worked in our lives - considering ourselves - so that we will not be tempted by the addiction that has held such power in our lives and still might to a large extent. We are told in verse 6:2 that in helping to carry these burdens of others we are fulfilling the law of Christ, emulating to some extent the One who came to help carry our burdens and to sacrifice His body on the cross that we could find freedom from sin.1 Timothy 1:12-16 (ESV)
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our
Lord, because he judged me
faithful, appointing me to his service,
1:13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief,
1:14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
1:15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
1:16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
In this letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul admits to being a blasphemer and persecutor of the church, and that he had done that in ignorance and unbelief. By the time we get to the twelfth step in our program, we also should be able to be very honest and straightforward concerning our faults of the past. Having gained wisdom through working the earlier steps, we will know how to present ourselves in a light of honesty and humility that can stand as an example of the mercy and grace of God. In working with others who are in the midst of or just coming out of their addictive behaviors, this honesty about ourselves can bring hope to them for their own recovery and can keep us honest and humble and on track with our own programs. We can continue in the pattern of Paul, who is an example for those who have come after him in finding a saving belief in Christ Jesus that leads to life everlasting.James 5:19-20 (ESV)
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth
and someone brings him back,
5:20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
All of us are subject to erring from the truth. This is especially so for those who have been caught up in the lies of an addiction, and especially slow to take root. As someone who has been seduced by those same or similar lies in our own addictive behavior, we can have an understanding of what another person might be going through. It is our duty and our joy to do what we can to help others see the error of their ways and share with them the hope that there is a way out, contribough the grace and mercy of God.