Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 10 October 2022:
2 Samuel 14:13 – And the woman said, “Why then have you planned such a thing against the people of God? For in giving this decision the king convicts himself, inasmuch as the king does not bring his banished one home again.”
God’s ways combine justice and mercy, holding people accountable while allowing for reconciliation. The world often demands justice without mercy or no justice at all. (2 Samuel 14:10)
2 Samuel 14:14 — But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.
The Father provided His Son, Jesus that we would not remain as outcasts.
2 Samuel 14:24 — Let him dwell apart in his own house; he is not to come into my presence.
Both David and Absalom desired reconciliation, but David couldn’t bring himself to offer total forgiveness. Partial forgiveness is not forgiveness and does not fulfill our mission of reconciliation.
2 Samuel 14:27 – There were born to Absalom three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar. She was a beautiful woman.
Absalom named his daughter Tamar, presumably after his sister Tamar who was raped by Amnon. Absalom never got over what happened to his sister, and it affected his character development, his decision-making, and the course of his life. It is a terrible thing to be driven by anger, bitterness, and by a quest for revenge.
2 Samuel 14:32 — Now therefore let me go into the presence of the king, and if there is guilt in me, let him put me to death.
Again, Absalom wanted to settle things with his father. Never be the barrier to reconciliation.
James 5:5 – You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence.
Self-indulgence is ungodly and worthy of God’s judgment.
James 5:7, 8 – Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
The Christian life is a lifetime of cultivating a godly heart, one day at a time, patiently waiting for the Day of the Lord.
James 5:7-11 — Patience is a godly virtue. When the Bible speaks of patience, it is talking about patience that waits beyond natural life if necessary.
James 5:9 – Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
Do you grumble? This is a sign of distance from Jesus.
James 5:11 – Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast.
A mature Christian is consistently Christ-like over time, steadfast, regardless the circumstances and with no need of praise.
James 5:14 – Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
Do your elders pray for you when you need it?
James 5:16a – “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”
“Confession is God’s provision to clear obstacles that hinder our relationships with God and with others. Confession is not just for those who don’t mind admitting their faults. Confession is a command, given to every Christian. James advised that when we sin, it is important for us to confess not only to God, but also to our fellow Christians. There is a tremendous freedom that comes as we openly acknowledge the sinfulness of our actions to others. If confession does not come out of repentance, it is merely admission, and not true confession. It is important to confess your sins specifically and not hide behind generalities. It is one thing to pray, “O Lord, forgive my sin.” It’s quite another to identify specifically in painful honesty. Whenever possible, confession ought to be made directly to those whom your sin has hurt. You are not to confess the sins of others but only your offenses. Confession is not a sign of weakness; it is evidence of your refusal to allow sin to remain in your life. Significantly, James linked confession with prayer. Your prayers will be hindered if you hold on to unconfessed sin. When James promised that the “effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much,” he did so in the context of confession. If you wish to have a powerful prayer life, you must regularly confess your sin. Only when there are no obstacles separating you from God and others will your prayers be effective. Pride will discourage you from admitting to others the sinfulness of your heart. A desire to please God will compel you to confess your sin and rid yourself of its oppressive burden.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
James 5:16b – The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
“God promises all believers that if we live righteously and pray fervently, our prayers will be effective and produce significant results. How do we treat a promise like this? We might argue, “But I do pray, and nothing happens!” Our problem is that we do not hold ourselves accountable to the Scripture. God’s Word says that prayer ought to accomplish much. If our prayer life is not accomplishing much, what should we do? If we are praying but seeing no results, should we conclude that this promise is untrue? Should we excuse this Scripture as impractical and unrealistic? Or should we examine ourselves to see if we meet its conditions? James says that fervent prayer avails much. Could it be that we are not as fervent in our praying as we should be? Fervent prayer means we do not quit easily. Fervent prayer means we purposefully spend sufficient time in intercession. Fervent prayer means we cry out to the Father, sometimes in tears, with our heart and soul. Fervent prayer comes as the Holy Spirit assists us in praying with groanings too deep for words (Rom. 8:26). According to James, our righteousness will ensure effective prayer. God’s standard of righteousness is different from ours, for He looks beyond our actions, even beyond our thoughts, directly to our hearts. How then should we hold ourselves accountable if our prayers are accomplishing little? If nothing happens when we pray, the problem is not with God. The problem is with us, for God’s word is absolutely reliable. If we adhere to what God requires, He will lead us to pray for things that align with His purposes, and God will answer our prayers in a mighty way.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
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)
Saving a sinner from sin is one of life’s greatest accomplishments. You can be a hero today by bringing back a wanderer. “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” (Jude 1:20-23)
“One of the Christian’s greatest deterrents from sin is the life of another Christian. Some Christians maintain that it is none of their business if another chooses to sin. They are convinced that they are being judgmental if they respond to someone in sin. The world persuades them not to get involved, but this inaction prevents them from being an effective intercessor. As Christians we are aware that sin brings death (Rom. 6:23). Sin kills relationships, dismantles marriages, stifles joy, and destroys peace. When we see someone wander from the truth into error, how should we respond? When Jesus saw sin it broke His heart. He wept over entire cities as He saw them rejecting the truth (Matt. 23:37-39). He prayed fervently for His disciples to be strong when they were tempted (John 17). He warned those who were heading toward spiritual failure (Matt. 26:20-25, 34). Jesus was even willing to die to save people from their sins because He knew the devastation that sin causes. Jesus never stood idle as those around Him were led astray by their sin. He always took an active role in turning them back to God. “Minding your own business” will save you some discomfort, but it will not help a brother or sister who needs to return to the Lord. If you are truly aware of the grave consequences for those who continue in sin, you will be moved to weep even as Jesus wept. Pray fervently for your friend. That will safeguard your motives and prepare you to minister to him. Be alert, in the event that God asks you to confront your friend. If you do so, be loving and gentle lest you, too, be tempted (Gal. 6:1).” (Henry T. Blackaby)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 10 October 2022: 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.