“My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember that whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” James 5:19-20
Those final verses in James have haunted me now for a few weeks. How do we know beyond doubt when wrong has occurred? Without going into detail, I have been watching a situation unfold, where undoubtedly wrong has been done, but on which side and to what extent, I am unsure.
So, how can we know when we need to take a stand? Obviously, if we are acting Christ-like, there will be times when we need to show when wrong has been done. Especially if it is within the confines of the church, of the faith. Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple. (Matthew 21:12) He demonstrated righteous anger. How do I know when my anger is righteous?
After weeks of prayer, and quiet contemplation, I am still unsure of the correct approach. I received some answers, but still feel much of the story has yet to be told.
And, in some ways, I am not sure I want to hear the story. I know all humans are fallible, (We all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23, how many times have I quoted that verse?). But there is something especially painful when a fellow Christian falls.
It is heart wrenching to think, just maybe, a brother has been intent on deceiving others. What do we do? What should we do?
“My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth,”
We need to determine if indeed someone or multiple someones have wandered from the truth. Not for personal enlightenment, not to spark yet more gossip, but to determine if indeed an infraction has occurred.
Restitution needs to happen. I really believe the offending parties need to meet, acknowledge wrongs, and offer forgiveness. Then, the proffered forgiveness needs to be sincerely accepted, and then, we truly need to move on with our lives.
Who did what? We might never know the answer to that question. But it is not important I know; what is important is that God knows. And when all concerned are proclaiming God’s name, we truly need to ascertain that we as Christians make sure this is handled Christ-like.
Satan loves to divide. I sometimes think that if Satan had a motto it would probably be “Divide and Conquer”. When Christians are united and acting as the Bible calls them to: focused on God, and His commands; they live in unity and harmony. They can overlook personality quirks and can carry out what God has called them to do, because they are so focused on God.
But, if Satan can weasel his way in there, and distract them from God, it does not matter how, just as long as he succeeds in distracting, then their eyes are off God, and automatically turn towards themselves. When we humans have eyes only on the self, we become very ugly creatures. Our words are ugly, our actions are ugly, and we do very little to glorify God. And, everything our neighbor or our brother does, offends us greatly.
So, be it division between and husband and wife, a split between two sisters, a breach between a parent and teen, or a glaring gap in a congregation, as long as they are divided, Satan has begun winning that battle.
But, when the words of truth enter, Satan’s progress is slowed. And when Christians start acting Christ-like, we reach a turning point: because the truth always, always, wins out. “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
So I can not sit idly by. I care too deeply for all those affected to let Satan have his way with us. I pray for discernment and guidance, and yes, courage. Because, sometimes, many times in this world, the truth is not popular. Yet, someday, I need to account for everything I have done, before God, and I hope to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21
“Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death,” I truly and sincerely care too deeply for all involved to let anger or hatred or whatever else is there to distract anyone of us from God. I refuse to let Satan steal one of God’s children. I have no illusions that anyone would necessarily listen to my thoughts, but I do know God’s word can penetrate a heart. It can pierce a soul. It can save from destruction.
We are called to do what is right. We are called to bring each other back from the edge. We are called to keep one another accountable. And, we are called to love one another, no matter what. We all need to apply the Bible to every area of our lives, every single day.
1) Think of a time when you thought wrong had been done. How did you deal with it?
2) Upon reflection, how do you think you should have dealt with it?
3) Are you prepared, should you yourself wander from the truth, for a brother or sister to gently restore you?
4) How do you deal with pride? Can you identify when pride rears its ugly head in your life?
5) How can you keep pride at bay, and yourself grounded in faith and truth? After listing some ideas, implement.
I would love to hear how you have dealt with bringing others back to the truth, and any personal stories you have of either restoring someone, or someone restoring you. I would draw much encouragement from hearing how God has restored hearts and proclaimed truth.
Thank you so much for reading, and please, prayerfully consider how you might bless others by sharing your life experiences. Please return by Monday, November 5, for the next post. (Hint: it will not be from James!)