Wednesday, February 15

Wanderers

Scripture: James 5

James 5:19–20 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Observation

James concludes his letter with a call to action: if someone wanders from the truth, turn them back. If you do, you save them from death and cover a multitude of sins.

First, notice that it’s possible to wander, and that wandering can result in spiritual death. 

Second, when someone wanders, it’s our responsibility to go after them. Try to turn them back. 

Third, it’s worth the effort—you might save them from death.

Application

This jumped out at me because of my friend who recently “wandered” in a big way: at 65, he left his wife, kids, grandkids, friends, ministry, church, legacy—his whole life—for another woman. It was a “scorched earth” move—he left so much destruction in his wake, so many people hurt, angry and confused. I’m dealing with it every day. I reached out to him and got nothing back—crickets. In his departing email he warned that he would not respond, that he knew what we’d say (he’d said it himself many times) and didn’t want to hear it. So I’m not surprised at the crickets. At this point, I don’t see what I can do beyond praying.

Then I began to think about others who are wandering—most in far less dramatic ways than my friend. I thought of Jesus’ words in Luke 15 about the lone sheep that wandered and the good shepherd who went after it. I thought of Ezekiel 34 where the good shepherds seek the wandering sheep—and God himself promised to do that. 

This is part of my job as a pastor—to go after wandering sheep. But it’s not just my job. James wasn’t written just to pastors but to all Christians. It’s our job when we see someone wandering to go after them and bring them back. 

And when we do, we are sharing in the work of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who came after us to save us.

Prayer: Lord, I love you. Here’s my life again. Use me to help people find and follow you. And use me to bring back the wanderers. Show me today who you want me to go after. 

More: Leviticus 1-2, Acts 22