Friday, March 17, 2017

Responsible for the Straying

Chuckle: Two kids went into their parents’ bathroom and noticed the scale in the corner. “Whatever you do,” said one youngster, “don’t step on it!” “Why not?’ asked the sibling. “Because every time Mom does, she lets out a loud scream!”
Quote: “It is the part of a Christian to take care of his own body for the purpose that by its soundness and well-being, he may be enabled to labor. . . thus the stronger member may serve the weaker member, and we may be children of God, and busy for one another, bearing one another's burdens, and so fulfilling the law of Christ." --Martin Luther

"My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:19-20 NIV).
Here, James is pointing out our responsibility for those brothers and sisters around us. In fact in Galatians 6:1-2 we read: "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you may also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and in this way fulfill the law of Christ." It's much easier to judge others and gossip about someone's failures than to reach out to them in love, gentleness, and kindness to help restore them to the fellowship. Notice these results from seeking to turn a wayward Christian back to the Lord:
1. We turn a sinner (straying Christian) from the error of his ways. when we see a fellow believer straying away from God, we are to take that person by the hand and lead him/her to see the need to for repentance and turning back to God.
2. We save him from death. This sounds ominous and mysterious. When a Christian is out of fellowship with God, and we help restore him, James says we've saved him from death? It seems appropriate to take James as meaning death in the sense of what sin does to human life rather than to relate death to ultimate destruction or lostness. This part of the verse could then be stated this way: "He shall deliver such a wayward Christian from the deadly result of his sins." I believe James is saying that the destructive power of sin will be thwarted because the wayward Christian will turn away from the error of his ways.
Perhaps James is talking about premature physical death for a Christian who continues to walk away from God and dishonor Him for an extended period. Carrying this possibility even further, the Bible says there is a sin unto death. I John 5:16 says, "If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. . . . There is a sin that leads to death." Ananias and Saphirra committed a sin unto death (Acts 5:1-11). As part of the early Jerusalem church and they lied to God and the people and God struck them dead. By this God was saying he didn't want his people doing like the world does -- persisting in sin.
3. We help him cover a multitude of sins. Our sins are covered only by the blood of Christ shed on the cross. When a wayward Christian confesses and repents of sin, those sins are forgiven, the life is cleansed, and the fellowship with God is restored.
What then can we do? We can (1) unconditionally love those who stray; (2) pray for them persistently; (3) lovingly confront them with a broken heart and express our concern. Do this as God provides opportunity and according to His timing. Do you have a friend needing help in coming back to the fellowship of Christ? Please allow God to use you in bringing that person back to a faithful walk with our Lord.
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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