Tuesday in the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

James 5:19-20

Recovering an Errant Brother

James ends his letter with what is really a plea—a plea for brother to watch over brother and sister over sister.  What he does in effect is pronounce a blessing over the one who rescues a brother or sister who wanders from the truth—the truth of the gospel which is made real by being doers of the word.  Perhaps the errant brother has wandered off into sinful living or simply stopped attending church.  The church doesn’t save but the lack of attendance thereunto is certainly a sign that one has wandered away and cut himself off from the teaching, the fellowship, and the table.  The question must then be asked, “Why?”  If we are dealing with an elderly or infirm person, that is one thing.  Otherwise, the cause is due to anything ranging from apathy (a sin in itself) to manifest and open sin.  And if one simply refuses to return to the household of the saints in defiance of God’s word (Hebrews 10:24-25) we might rightly wonder if they ever experienced saving grace to begin with.

Once again, Paul and James walk hand-in-hand.  Paul writes: “If anyone is caught in spiritual transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness, lest you too be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1).  This is particularly the task of elders, but James suggests that anyone may approach another in the endeavor of reclaiming a lost soul.  Paul reminds us to do so with humility. 

And what is the reward for rescuing the wanderer?  The greatest reward of all: The saving of the wandering soul from eternal death by the covering of his many sins through the forgiveness of Christ!  And to know that one has played a part in that—what a blessing!  In this case, the reward is in the deed itself.  And when we think about it, the reward always is the deed itself—the participation of the believer in the work of Christ, the sharing of the rich bounty of God’s grace as we go about being doers of the word.  This is the teaching of James’ letter and the blessing of gospel service.

And here the letter of James ends.  Unlike Paul, he does not include closing greetings and benedictions.  Perhaps he was in a hurry.  Perhaps he was not the man of letters that Paul, Luke, and other of the apostles were.  It matters not; he got his message across.  Christianity is faith working through love manifesting itself in a life of righteous deeds and justice (1:26-27; Galatians 5:6).  Anything less is not the gospel.  And on this point, there is no daylight between the godly Bishop and the apostles.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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