Today’s bible study is James 5:19-20: My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
This scripture passage may be interpreted in two ways: doctrinally and speculatively, by embracing error; or practically, by falling into sinful practices. Either of these may be called ‘erring from the truth,’ because they are contrary to what the truth teaches and requires.
These may seem difficult to understand, but it is important to take the words and their message and attempt to put them into practice in meaningful Christian ways in our own lives. Let is examine them one at a time. If we embrace error, we are being slackers and making little effort to improve our ways. In a very real sense, this is a form of sin, since we are not only allowing ourselves to err, but being separated from the Holy Spirit by doing so. Allowing error to invade our lives, making poor choices again and again, hurting others over and over, falling short of our goals and making no real effort to try and try again is not what Jesus would have us do.
Embracing error is even more thought provoking, since many of our errors in daily life are simply errors of omission rather than commission. We become busy, we are preoccupied, we are hurrying, and we simply do not have time to think, to reason and to pray. We do not mean to err, but there are too many things that we should have done that were never done. Errors of omission are, quite simply, part of our fallible human nature and are easily forgiven. Over and over again, Christians pray for forgiveness for the things that they ought to have done, yet left undone.
The error of commission is quite different. It is actively participating in an act that is contrary to the teaching s of Jesus and against the will of God. Is is knowingly and deliberately entering into some form of conduct that we know is a poor choice, yet we choose to make it. Commission is an active wrongdoing while omission is a passive wrong. When we commit sinful acts, we have consciously or unconsciously made the choice to do so. We may not take time to think about the hurt our act will cause, the toll we may have to pay, the harm that might befall anyone or the danger we have placed ourselves in. Yet, we have chosen to do it. This does not mean that God will not love us or that Jesus will forsake us. It simply required an active participation on our part to reestablish our relationship with the Holy Spirit and to right the wrong and to change the error of our ways.
We have all erred and strayed. We have all, at some time, wandered from the flock and, much like lost sheep, need to be brought back. We need to be brought back to the place we belong, the dwelling place we share with Jesus and the kingdom of God. May we seek to not only confess our own sins and wrongdoings but help to bring others who have done so back into the fold so the family of God may remain as one. And may we always seek to correct rather than commit and to pray for closeness with our Lord and Savior rather than allowing ourselves to be drawn away through the error of our ways.
References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock, The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur and Concise Bible Commentary, David S. Dockery, General Editor
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