James 5:19-20 KJV
19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;
20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
In conclusion of his letter, James gives us a challege that we all are called to filfull – the preaching of the gospel with emphasis on converting the fallen Christian, not the unbeliever!
This is a challenge we face more often than we like. We see people fall into sin and wander away from God way too often. At least I know I do and it’s awful hard to decide exactly what to do in these situations. If we use the wrong words we can be accused of being judgemental and our words will not be listened to. If we ignore them we could be placing them in danger of hell and we certainly don’t want to do that. Most often we just remain neutral and don’t do anything.
The word “err” here is also translated wander in other places, and we have looked at this word before. It means to wander off the path. Remember that Jesus said the path to heaven is straight and narrow and we need to stay on that path.
I have wondered off the path in my walk with Christ. I was so thankful for a pastor who would set my feet back on the path even if it took a hard word of Truth. I even had one pastor who kicked me out of his church and said I could never come back unless I went to Pure Life Ministries. If not for him I would never have gone there and I probably would never have overcome my pride problem. This problem led to so many sins in my life it was incredible. The truth of this passage of scripture is evident in what happened because of the words of that Pastor.
This pastor converted me from a life of full of hidden sin that was covered up by Pride. And because of that conversion God forgave me of a multitude of sins and set my feet back on the right path. And he showed me how my wife as my helpmate could assist me in overcoming that Pride. I will never be able to repay that Pastor. We have now settled in a different search but he is always on the top of my prayer list and we are friends even today.
But it does not need to be a pastor who does these things. We are called as Christians to help others when they are challenged in their life by shin. It is something we need to seriously pray about and ask God to help us with the gift of discernment when something is going on in someone’s life that is drawing them away from Christ. There are certain signs we can look for in a person to know how they are doing.
If they are missing church and used to be regular then something is probably going on. If they used to be ardent In worship and now they are half-hearted something has happened in their heart. If they come into the church and just sit in their seat when they used to circulate then there’s something behind the scenes that has cooled at zeal. I think these three things are the initial signs that someone is wandering off the path. The discernment of the Holy Spirit can help us see these things. We need to pray that the holy spirit will give us the right words when we are going to approach them. And then pray and we will not sound judgemental but loving in the words that we share with them.
To be honest I have not stepped out with this kind of faith in the past. It is a call on my life to do that and I need to step up. Not for my own sake but for the sake of those who are falling away. I must not let them go too far off the path towards Christ, but gently lead them back to the straight and narrow way. They will benefit greatly and I’ll be blessed in knowing a soul has been saved.
Our study in James is now complete, but I will do one more post to recap the highlights we will then embark on a stidy in prayer that I first did in 1990 and was hoping to put into a book. I ran acrpsz2all the notes recently and this blog will form the basis for the book. I ask for your honest assesment and comments throughout this study.