Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death. James 5:20
The early spring weather was refreshing and my traveling companion, my wife, couldn’t have been better. But the beauty of those moments together could have quickly morphed into tragedy if it weren’t for a red and white warning sign that informed me I was headed in the wrong direction. Because I hadn’t turned wide enough, I momentarily saw a “Do Not Enter” sign staring me in the face. I quickly adjusted, but shudder to think of the harm I could have brought to my wife, myself, and others if I’d ignored the sign that reminded me I was going the wrong way.
The closing words of James emphasize the importance of correction. Who among us hasn’t needed to be “brought back” by those who care for us from paths or actions, decisions or desires that could’ve been hurtful? Who knows what harm might have been done to ourselves or others had someone not courageously intervened at the right time.
James stresses the value of kind correction with these words, “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (5:20). Correction is an expression of God’s mercy. May our love and concern for the well-being of others compel us to speak and act in ways that He can use to “bring that person back” (v. 19).
What risks or rewards are associated with helping a wanderer find his or her way back to where they belong? When did God use someone to bring you back from a not-so-good place?
Father, keep me from straying from Your truth and grant me courage to help bring back those who are wandering.
The book of James opens like many New Testament letters by identifying the author and the recipients (1:1). However, it lacks some personal details and characteristics often included in letters, such as a final greeting. Some scholars consider James to be a form of wisdom literature, but it’s more often described as a diatribe—a writing style intended to move readers to action. The author, James, likely the half-brother of Jesus, writes in an abrupt tone, getting straight to the point of his message. The end of his letter follows suit with a formal call to action—a call to the readers to bring believers who’ve sinned back to the truth (5:19–20).
To further study, visit christianuniversity.org/nt315.