James 5: 19 – 20
“My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, 20 you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.”
The Book of James has been a very practical guide to Christian living. James hasn’t wasted any words telling us how to live. Looking back over the past month as we’ve read through James, he has told us so many things. We don’t have to be considered important in our world for God to use us. God often grows us by helping us through difficult situations. We need to learn to act practically because of our faith; it’s not just something we believe in or think about. It requires action. We need to listen before we speak. When we speak, we need to be careful about what we say. We definitely shouldn’t be criticizing or speaking ill of people in our faith community. We shouldn’t be prejudiced – more willing to associate with people we think are okay, and avoiding people we think aren’t as good. In fact, we need to be careful that we don’t value monetary or fame success more than our relationship with God. We need to realize that we should seek God’s plans for us, not our own. Three words that stand out as we read through James are love, humility and patience.
Now James closes with a request for us to lend a helping hand to fellow Christians who have turned away from the faith in some way. I don’t think he is telling us to be judgmental and confront people with what we think they are doing wrong. That totally goes against all his advice in James which is accomplished by being loving, humble and patient. It is sad when we see a fellow believer disappear, and perhaps with this pandemic, we will discover once church gets back to a more regular routine, that people have disappeared. I’ve talked with so many people who have mentioned this feeling of disconnect with their churches, and I wonder if that means returning to church may not happen. Whatever the reason for “wandering” is, we need to reach out in a loving, patient way.
Occasionally, we hear about Christians being very critical, quick to condemn the actions of others. Although God wants us to speak the truth, we need to realize that God is a loving and patient God with us personally. As we seek to put God first in our lives, and listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting, we develop these characteristics:
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians: 22 – 23)
James gives us high standards for being Christ followers. We can be so thankful that the Holy Spirit works with each of us to bring us into alignment with our heavenly father. As we reach out to others, we do it in gratitude and humility because of what God has done for us.
Our song for today is Humble Heart by Matt McChlery