SATURDAY 10.1.22 James 5:19-20
19 My brothers and sisters, if any of you strays from the truth and someone brings back the wanderer, 20 recognize that whoever brings back a sinner from the wrong path will save him from death and obtain forgiveness from many sins.
Today is the last day of our study James. We invite you to remember the five verses to memorize of this series. If you haven’t memorized and/or downloaded them all during the series, all five are at www.cor.org/jamesdownloads.
Clearly, James was much more concerned with acting on what we believe than on fancy, eloquent words. So he ended the letter, not with an elegant flight of rhetoric, but with a simple encouragement to actively help turn back people who err on the wrong path. The ending of James “is similar to those of 1 John 5:16-20 and Jude 22-23. The endings of the three letters – James, 1 John and Jude – call the community to pray for those who sin to change their evil ways. * This is a value we see in small groups at the Resurrection. In the relatively small house churches of James’s day, it was easy to notice if one or more members of the group “wandered” off. It’s harder in services with many thousands (both in person and online), even if we try. But when you’re regularly involved with people in a small group, it’s pretty clear if anyone in the group is at risk of wandering off.
- Let’s be honest: the call to speak to “bring a sinner back from the wrong path” can be even more daunting than being asked to confess their sins to each other. But it’s important, no matter how difficult. “To see someone walk away in a dangerous direction and do nothing is a tragic dereliction of duty. It can be hard to get them to back down – they may insist that they’re right and we’re wrong! – but the effort must be made, precisely in the humility and patience that James has urged throughout. **Has anyone ever helped you to turn away from wandering down a wrong path? Are you ready to ask God to give you the humility and patience you need to do this for someone else?
Almighty God, you exercise your power through persuasion and love, not intimidation or force. Help me learn to attract those I love to your path in your spirit, with humility and patience. Amen.
* Patrick J. Hartin, study note on James 5:19 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 460NT.
**Wright, NT, Paleochristian letters for all (The New Testament for All) (p. 43). Presbyterian Publishing Company. Kindle edition.