19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: 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 NIV)
We live in a day when nobody wants to get into anybody else’s business. We don’t want to come off as self-righteous. We don’t want to be seen as judgmental. Therefore, we mind our own business. When someone in our life, outside of our immediate family, gets off track we “hope” they will come to their senses and get back on track.
As I read the Scripture from James this morning I thought about the different ways that we can read this Scripture. We can read it from the vantage point of the person who has wandered from the truth or we can read it as the person who “turns a sinner from the error of his way…” I think it is imperative that I see myself in both ways.
I can’t number all of the times that I’ve “wandered from the truth” and had someone who cared deeply for me, come and speak to me. It is sometimes hard to hear words of correction, but without them there is no doubt that I would destroy my life. Those who have been used most powerfully by God to open my eyes to the error of my ways didn’t come to crush me, belittle me, or berate me. They came to try and restore me. I will be forever grateful for their courage to come to me.
For me, it is oftentimes more difficult to be the one who goes to a friend who is heading for the ditch than to have someone come to me. I don’t want to be perceived as self-righteous or judgmental. I’m learning that it is the way that I approach my wayward friend that is most important. I need to approach them the same way that God continues to come to me when I get off track. God corrects me in love and I should do nothing less for my friends.
Jesus told a parable about a shepherd who had lost one of his sheep. It is quite clear from reading Luke 15:4-7 that the shepherd wasn’t looking for the sheep to scold him once he found him. Jesus says,
5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ (Luke 15:5-6 NIV)
Jesus went on to say that there is more rejoicing in heaven over one lost sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who do not need to repent. God’s passion is for the wayward to turn back to Him. My passion should mirror the passion of Almighty God.
My prayer today, Lord, is that You would give me ears to hear when I get off track and You send someone my way to redirect me back to You. I also pray that You will help me overcome my fears of what others will think of me when You call me to seek out the wayward with Your love.