“My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” ~James 5:19-20 (NRSV).
I wonder if there is a harder thing to do than speak the truth into a “wandering” person’s life such that they might, sometime later, extol God again, in truth, by embracing their humiliating position.
We all wander from the way of life; our path ordained eternally from the beginning.
James is telling us that the person that expresses courage in redressing our fault, presumably with great sensitivity, deserves God’s highest praise. It is the highest form of love; to selflessly communicate truth with no gain in sight for the communicator, only potential loss.
The Role and Importance of Sponsorship
Those who have had a sponsor—one that became like an older brother or sister, or mother or father—for a time such as that ordained at our rock bottoms—will have sheer appreciation for their heroic intercession.
Many times the sponsor has found the resource of tact to bravely go where others would understandably fear to tread; that is, to go to battle with our pride and whisper the truth into our minds and humility into our hearts.
Bringing us about to a wakefulness regarding our sickly moral sense—to be able to instil the revelation of such truth via facilitation—is perhaps the skill required having themselves learned the coarse lessons, personally. The sponsor is, therefore, usually someone who has been sponsored. Such an inspiration has inspired them.
Part of the process of sponsorship is in converting people to new salvation, and another part is steering those already saved through discipleship. Both genres of sponsorship are equally important.
A Message to the Sinner
We are all squarely and comfortably placed here—sinners, all.
Therefore, these concluding few sentences from James—the urgent, blunt slave of Christ—are a proclamation to last like a taste in our mouths. He says to us, “You should know...”
Let us, for a moment, let those three words absorb into our conscious minds.
“You should know...”
This is a twofold message, plain and simple. As sinners we are to recognise the gift of God provident in these. As sinners we are also supposed to note that we, too, have a role—at the God-appointed time—to speak truth into the lives of our fellows, as and how the Spirit leads.
Redressing wrongdoing—either our own or making another aware, without judgment—is a task we are anointed for. Wisdom, however, has it working; nothing else.
The blessedness of being a sinner—besides the fact of grace—is we are in good company; the reproof given or received in the spirit of love is a gift from God, and we ought to all have the humility to value the truth above our pride.
We know, it’s more difficult than it sounds.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.