James 5:19 – He who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
I believe this to be one of the most profound Scriptures in the Bible. There is nothing more valuable than a soul. We know this because God gave His absolute best to redeem the souls of men. Once we have received redemption, the Lord makes us part of the solution to sin by enabling us to help other sinners become aware of God’s wonderful love. When one embraces the truth of God’s word, they begin to have an eternal perspective.
According to our verse, straying from the truth happens within the body of Christ. Persecution can tempt a large number of people to stray. There is always the enticement of the flesh. The influence of others can draw us away from our first love. It is important that we cover one-another’s backs. This is one reason why it is so important to be part of a small group. In the small group setting, we can share our challenges, temptations, and even our faults through confession.
James encourages those reading his letter that whoever turns a sinner from the “error” of his way saves a soul from death and will cover a “multitude of sins.” Let us never forget, Jesus came to save sinners. He did the work of redemption, but has chosen us to share His redemptive grace. I love the old hymn titled “I Love to Tell the Story.” Christmas time is such a great occasion to share with others the story of Jesus’ love. It is important for us to be reminded how many around us are perishing. As a believer, the power of God is in us to be used to turn the lost around. We have gotten away from that kind of thinking and speaking because of our sophisticated world. The Gospel is that simple: Christ came to save sinners.
The sin nature is singular, but it is multiplied in the sinful practices it produces. When the blood of Christ is applied, it becomes like a flood, washing away everything in its path. Thank God for His cleansing power given through the blood of Christ! James chose to end his letter to the churches with this thought of turning a sinner from the error of his way. It is a good thought for us to think about as we wind down the year and prepare for the next. As we remember the gift of God, let us be mindful to share His gift with others.
Father, I thank You for saving my soul. I thank You for making me whole and giving me Your salvation so rich and free. Fill me with the Holy Spirit to share with others Your great love that turns sinners from the error of their ways.
James 5:14-15 – Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.
The Holy Spirit has anointed elders for the body of Christ. True elders carry many responsibilities regarding the care of God’s people. The early church ordained a number of men in each city who gave shepherding oversight to the Lord’s flock. James writes, the sick one “must call for the elders.” This calling for the elders does not seem to be optional. By the same token, the elders have a responsibility to pray over the individual. This seems to have been an ordinance in the New Testament church. The Holy Spirit has been restoring the healing ministry to the church for some time. Many local churches make it a practice to pray for the sick. In those churches where eldership is practiced, the elders lay hands on the sick and anoint with oil.
The anointing with oil is a very old custom which was practiced and adapted in the New Testament churches as they developed in the first century. Oil is seen throughout the Scriptures as a representation of the Holy Spirit. The elders are to pray the “prayer of faith.” Only prayer offered in faith has authority to bring results. To pray in faith means praying according to the instruction of Scripture. Note the strong assurance that their prayer “will restore the one who is sick.” James goes on to say, “the Lord will raise him up.” There is not only the promise of restoration, but forgiveness as well.
Based on James’ instruction and the promise given, we should confess our sins to one another. Sin should be minimal in the life of any believer. The practice of sin is a sure sign that one has not been born again. Open confession of sin provides a twofold benefit. First, there is to be accountability within the community of the believers. Second, it gives a chance of conviction in the hearts of others. Both of these benefits provide an atmosphere for healing, physically and spiritually.
Whether one is an elder in the Lord’s church or an individual seeking simply to obey and serve their Lord, “the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16b). As God’s people, let us pursue righteousness, confess sin, and be faithful in prayer.
Father, I thank You for Your provisions outlined in the Book of James. Fill me with the Holy Spirit that I might walk in righteousness fulfilling Your will. If there is any sin in my life, cause me to become aware and willing to confess openly. Renew me in the ministry of prayer along with Your people who are called to intercede on behalf of the lost and the hurting.
James 5:7 – Be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.
In the month of December, believers turn their attention toward celebrating the birth of the Savior. What a tremendous time of the year, as we remember all that the Lord has done for His people. James, in the fifth chapter of his letter, addresses the misuse of riches in verses 1-6. In the 7th verse James exhorts God’s people to be patient until the coming of the Lord. What James is addressing is relevant today.
There is a misery coming on those that are rich who do not regard our Lord and Savior. James makes a sobering statement when he says, “You and your silver have rusted; and the rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!” (James 5:3). Gold and silver don’t rust, so obviously the statement is an exaggeration to make a very important point. We now know that for that generation, the last days referred to the destruction of the Temple, the city of Jerusalem, and the Jewish society as a whole. Men were putting their confidence in “riches,” but those riches were about to perish.
The application is vital for our generation as well. We do not know precisely when the Lord will return, but it is evident we are closer than when we first believed. The culture we have known is on shaky ground. The world economic picture is changing and will continue to change as we approach the end of all things. The exhortation of James to be “patient” is a worthy thing to meditate upon. “Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door” (James 5:9). In all we do, let the return of Christ be fully central in our minds. Judge your actions as believers, knowing that one day all our actions will be judged by Christ.
The return of Christ is the great filter for our motivations. Our faith is evaluated, not only on trusting Christ in His first coming, but on our confidence in His return. His first coming through His death on the cross provides us with the gift of salvation through repentance and trusting in His shed blood. Our patience toward His return helps us walk in righteousness before God and towards others.
Those who have preceded us, namely the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord, are examples to us of suffering and patience. There are many throughout the world walking in that kind of endurance. Consider Job and his endurance. Also consider the outcome of Job’s endurance. The Lord was merciful and compassionate toward Job. He will also be merciful and compassionate toward us as we endure through difficult times, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ who has His reward with Him.
Father, strengthen my patience by helping me be continually focused on the coming of the Lord. Help me to not trust in riches that will parish, but in the true riches of Christ. During this Christmas month, help me, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to bear witness, both of Your first coming as the Babe of Bethlehem, but also the Judge who will return to judge the hearts of all. I pray that I might be faithful in difficult times.
Proverbs 15:19 – The way of the lazy is as a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway.
My father taught my brothers and me, “Don’t put off till tomorrow, what you can do today because tomorrow never comes, it is always today.” Delay in one’s responsibilities will cause a pileup of things to be done which will have a strong effect on your ability to think clearly. Procrastination causes great pressures in an individual’s life such as pressures in relationships, pressure regarding scheduling responsibilities, and pressure in one’s own emotional make-up.
Planning is vital for our spirituality. “Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3). Planning begins with a life committed to God’s eternal purpose. Our time belongs to the Lord. We must learn not to be careless about how we use our time. As you plan your day, do it with the Lord. Ask the Father to be in charge of your plans. When you write down the things you need to accomplish, ask the Holy Spirit for His guidance. This is a sure way for your plans to be established. It is also good to ask for “divine appointments.” As we plan those natural appointments, know that the Lord may have some divine appoints He has prepared for you.
Planning is vital to our emotional well-being. When our mind is filled with confusion, it produces emotional stress that can affect every other area of our life. God’s will is for our emotions to be in a state of peace and rest. It is in that rest we find our greatest productivity. The Holy Spirit has been given to lead us into the rest of God.
Planning is vital to our physical health. Spiritual and emotional inconsistency is at the root of many physical problems. “A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken” (Proverbs) 15:13. God made man a triune being after His own image. “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
Planning is vital to any relationship. Procrastination can be very difficult on relational health. It puts others in a difficult position as their scheduling is affected by another’s procrastination. Procrastination is selfish because it neglects to take into consideration this effect on other people’s time. The Holy Spirit is our helper. He is present to help us overcome procrastination.
Father, I commit my ways to You. I ask for the Holy Spirit to lead me in my busy schedule. Help me not to procrastinate, but be responsible regarding the things I need to accomplish in my daily life. Show me what my priorities are and what is not important. I claim the peace of God for my whole spirit, soul, and body that I might be a witness of godly order in a busy world.
James 4:11 – Do not speak against one another, brethren.
The Gospel has as a major focus on relationship. Relationship is rooted in care for another. Mature relationship is the willingness to put another person’s welfare above your own. The greatest demonstration of this is revealed in Christ Jesus. God put His love for us first when He gave His Only Begotten Son to mankind. As Mary carried the “the Prince of Peace” in her womb, she carried the greatest expression of love that creation has ever known.
Jesus taught His disciples about God’s love when He said, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). The men the Father gave Jesus were about as diverse a group as one could find within the Jewish culture. In the natural, they did not have much in common. There were brothers in the mix, but even brothers can have deep-rooted issues in their relationship. It was the love of the Father in Christ that provided the spiritual substance for a new kind of love among people.
James instructs the body of Christ not to speak against one another. He helps us to understand that when we speak against our brother or sister, we are speaking against the law and judging the law. He goes on to say, if we judge the law, we are not a doer of the law, but a judge of the law. We need a proper biblical view. “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12). Making judgment about others is a dangerous proposition for kingdom people. According to 1 Corinthians 11, the wrong judgment of others in the body of Christ caused some believers to die an early death, while others were weak and sick as a result.
When a person is judgmental and critical, the spiritual circulation system among believers becomes clogged. Having a loving and accepting attitude of others opens up communication and an opportunity for a deeper development of love and respect. There are times when a person needs a word of correction or reproof, but it is important to understand the depth of the relationship we have with the individual before bringing either one. It is also important to have invested time and care in the relationship because it creates a platform for a corrective word.
Many times a relationship breaks down because of speaking behind another’s back. I believe this is what James is addressing in his exhortation to not speak against one another. If you find that you are having a relational difficulty with a family member or a brother or sister in Christ, go to that one and gently seek to resolve the problem. Do not go to others in an attempt to try and figure out what to do. The Scripture is clear, go first to the person where there is offense and try to resolve the problem. You may win your brother or sister as you exercise Christ’ love toward them.
Father, keep me from being a judge of the law and help me be a doer of Your word. Keep me from a critical spirit and give me a sincere love for family members and my brother and sister in Christ. Preserve me as Your disciple through love for my fellow believer. In this Christmas season, help me to be a witness of the Prince of Peace.