I am not a hunter, nor do I live off the land, but I understand the purpose of traps. They are set because you hope to snare, catch, or snag something in the process of them being "caught off-guard" by the thing you have set. Even when you throw a baited hook into the lake you are setting a trap, hoping to snag a fish in the process. The whole idea is to catch something totally unaware of the trap being set. Most of the time, we can stumble into a trap simply because we aren't paying close attention. If you have ever served in the military, one of the things they teach you is to have a "trained eye" to observe for things being a little out of place in your environment. The power of "observation" is a sense which must be practiced until it becomes keenly aware of what "IS" to be so that you can recognize when something "ISN"T supposed to be. Maybe we could take a lesson here - learning to know what is supposed to be in our path so we recognize the trap which clearly lies in wait to trip us up and lure us in!
My friends, you are spiritual. So if someone is trapped in sin, you should gently lead that person back to the right path. But watch out, and don’t be tempted yourself. You obey the law of Christ when you offer each other a helping hand. If you think you are better than others, when you really aren’t, you are wrong. Do your own work well, and then you will have something to be proud of. But don’t compare yourself with others. (Galations 6:1-4 CEV)
It should not surprise us that Paul refers to we human beings as being "trapped in sin". The truth is, there are a whole lot of ways traps are set and we need to learn to recognize more than the trap. I think we'd be able to avoid the traps better if we were to learn what is supposed to "be" instead of focusing so much on looking for the trap! When we see , hear, or even sense something which clearly deviates from what we know to be true, we can avoid the trap. Let me put it another way. If we learn the truth, a lie becomes quite apparent. If we learn the ways God acts, we recognize when it is something other than God who is luring us in.
I don't think the word "if" adequately expresses the reality of life, though. For most of us will at one time or another be trapped by sin. The term "when" is probably a more accurate reflection of the reality of living and breathing on this earth. "When" some is trapped in sin, we are galled upon to gently lead them back to the right path. Why? I guess we need to understand the purpose of the trap. No trap is ever set to just stun the thing being caught. It is designed to "take the fight out of" the thing! Whether it is a snare, trapping someone unawares, keeping them firmly fixed in place so they struggle repeatedly to pull free of the snare, or a more elaborate trap such as a cleverly concealed deep hole from which you cannot possible climb out under your own power, they all exhaust the ones caught in them!
This is why we need each other - to recognize not only the traps set for each other - but to be there "when" we might just be lured into their "snag". We cannot always recognize the traps, but with the assistance of another who walks with us, we can stand a better chance of being alerted to what is "not right", successfully navigating "away from" those very things which are designed to catch us unawares. Returning to our passage, you will recognize there is an inherent danger in "protecting another" from the traps in their midst - it is that of possibly being tripped up by the same trap!
How does that happen? Well, I think one of the easiest ways this happens is being so concerned about "their" trap that we fail to recognize the trap clearly in our own path! It is the story of being concerned about the speck in your friend's eye, while all the while you have this huge log in your own! This is why we should not travel alone - we need each other to help us remain humble, teachable, and aware. Let me put it this way - we often fail to see what is right in front of us because we are too busy looking so far down the other guy's path we don't see the "trip line" in front of us.
This is where comparison comes into play - that dangerous little trap which trips up a great many of us. We somehow look at another and see ourselves as "doing better" than them, so we think we are out of the woods. All the while, just up ahead, there is this cleverly disguised trap just waiting to trip us up. Comparison takes our eyes off of the course ahead and puts it on another. Keep your eyes firmly fixed on Christ, looking intently into the truth of his Word, and you will be less likely to focus on the other guy's issues and it will be easier to recognize your own! What my friends do for me as I walk this path is alert me to truth - they help me to recognize when I am not focused as I should be. This is what Paul has in mind here - to be there for each other, spurring one another on toward the goal, but not forgetting the dangers in our midst.
To be attentive to danger - learn the truth. To learn the truth - get into the Word. To get anything out of the Word - get into relationship with each other. We spur one another on, giving each other the vantage point of another pair of eyes! Just sayin!