Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 4 October 21:
James 5:19-20 – My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
After James challenges us to watch our own behavior (James 1), to show no partiality and to love everyone equally (James 2); to be cautious in the role of teacher and to bridle our tongues, to be peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and sincere (James 3); to not judge others (James 4); and to not grumble against one another but rather to suffer in patience; he concludes his epistle by challenging us to ‘rescue the wanderer’ in order to “save his soul from death” and to cover a multitude of sins – “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) Godly confrontation is an act of love but not an easy thing to do or to do well.
Everyone needs others around them to hold them accountable. However, when we see others engaged in sinful, destructive behavior, we too often either say nothing or respond too harshly or in a judgmental (condemning) way. Neither response fulfills the Great Command of Love. “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1) We need to practice the art of gentle confrontation and restoration. It is unloving and sinful to do otherwise — “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?” (Proverbs 24:11-12)
- James 5:15-16 — And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Gentle confrontation in love begins with and remains filled with constant intercessory prayer. Sin is a spiritual issue which requires a spiritual response and the work of the Holy Spirit to convict hearts in ways we can’t —
- 2 Corinthians 10:4 — For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
- Mark 9:29 — And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
- Matthew 5:44 — But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you….
- 1 Timothy 2:1-2 — First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
Jesus remained in constant, fervent prayer for His disciples during their times of weakness – “I am praying for them…. Holy Father, keep them in your name…. keep them from the evil one…. but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” (John 17:9, 10, 15; Luke 22:31) Why did Jesus pray for those who would abandon Him at the Cross? Because He loved them in their weakness, despite their offenses against Him. A good way to check your heart before confronting others is to consider how you have prayed for them.
Intercession before confrontation: The best way to prepare your heart for confrontation is to begin with intercession, pray earnestly for that person. Remember Jesus’ first words on the Cross — “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) When confronting others, deny self, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. (Luke 923)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 4 October 21: Consider who you know who has wandered from the truth, pray for them, and pray that God will show you how to restore them gently. If someone has hurt you greatly by their sin, pray that God will help you to forgive him or her in light of the Gospel, and notice how praying for him or her helps you enter into that forgiveness and brings you to a new level of peace.