My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. James 5, verses 19-20.
Here ends our walk through the book of James. If you remember, when we started all this I said that I really didn’t like James that much. He was too confrontational for me, too preachy, too hard. How ironic is it, then, that confrontational, harsh James finishes his missal encouraging us to help each other. To encourage us to live.
Encourage us to live. They’re fitting words, I think, given all that’s happened here. This week, my son finished high school; his graduation ceremony was today. You’ve read here about some of our struggles with him over drug addiction, anger management, proud rebellion, and questioning his faith. In the end, he learned to rely on God, to trust his abilities, and to focus, to do his best. The result is that God and all of us worked to turn a sinner from the error of his way. In doing so, God covered over a multitude of sins and restored a young man’s hope. Now, he’s at the conclusion of one epoch while looking forward into the unknown of another.
Yet even more, there are the monumental events of the last 24 hours. Our first grandchild was born. After a 36 hour labor, our oldest daughter, Gretchen, gave birth to her first son, Thomas Nolan, late last night. He’s healthy and big: 11.1 pounds and 21.5 inches long. Mom, Dad, and son are all doing fine, and Mom & Tom should both go home this weekend. It’s my hope to one day gather with Thomas’ mom and dad while we again await a birth, this one for Thomas’ son or daughter.
That’s many years away, though. In the days between now and then, I’m comforted to know that Thomas – and Dillon – will each be sinners who are saved from a separating death by the grace of the Savior King Jesus. We’re each in the same boat. Me, the new dad, Josh, Dillon, and newborn Thomas: we’re all sinners. And we’re all loved by Jesus. Friends will work to turn us away from our errors and back to the forgiveness of Christ. Two thousand years ago, James, the brother of Jesus, reminded us of this simple truth. We need each other, and we each need Jesus. Without each other, despondent loneliness results. Without Jesus, eternal death is guaranteed.
It doesn’t have to be this way. At the end of the book, I think that’s what James had in mind. It doesn’t have to be this way, friend. There is always the better Way. Knowing that, I like James much better now. Knowing that is the best message for my loved ones to begin their new lives.
Lord Jesus, thank you for the words of Your brother.
What do you think of James now?