The Early and Late Rains

My brothers and sisters, if any among you strays from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let that person know that whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” – James 5:19-20

Suppose you accidentally discover someone’s sin on social media, or maybe you hear a rumor and then discover the rumor is true. How do you respond? Matthew 18:15-17 instructs us clearly to approach the person privately, but all too often, our actual response involves much more talking to other people about the situation than it does talking to the person affected and to God.

When James says, “If any among you…” he is clearly speaking about a situation in which a fellow believer stumbles. His instructions complement those from Matthew 18. Rather than shake our heads in disbelief about someone’s lack of integrity and confide in someone else about what has happened, we should actively seek to turn the offending person back to Christ.

Has anyone ever done this for you? Perhaps they spoke hard truth when you didn’t want to hear it. You bristled at their words, but all along, you knew they were right. Maybe they quietly prayed for you, and you didn’t even realize it until much later. It’s possible you still don’t know who has prayed for you and quietly watched over you during a time of sin in your life. Commit to provide that loving accountability to another believer, should God give you that opportunity.

Keep in mind that if someone is truly a believer in Jesus Christ, their salvation is secure. Their relationship with Christ will have been hurt by their sin, but it will never be taken away. Ephesians 1:13-14 promises us, “In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory.”

Although their eternity may be secure, unconfessed sin can wreak havoc in a believer’s life. Spend a few moments in prayer, asking God to clearly direct your response when you discover a fellow believer has entered into sinful behavior. Ask Him to help you speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) with the aim of restoring your fellow believer to a right relationship with God.

Note: If you ever discover another believer is in a difficult situation, and you aren’t sure how to help, ask for guidance from a church staff member or trusted mature believer. It is always the goal to restore someone to a right relationship with Christ. Taking the time to prayerfully consider the best way to approach someone could greatly affect their response.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.