My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.
We love redemption stories. Some of the greatest works of literature, stage and cinema follow characters who turn their lives around, often against all odds. In Victor Hugo’s classic Les Miserables, Jean Valjean emerges from a long prison sentence to find no one will trust him or meet his needs. He finds shelter in a local church, where the Bishop treats him with kindness, but Valjean can’t resist stealing the church’s silver. When he is caught, the Bishop tells the police that the silver was a gift and gives Valjean two silver candlesticks as well. This act of mercy changes Valjean’s heart, and he dedicates the rest of his life to honorable pursuits and compassion toward others. It’s an inspiring story of redemption that reminds us of the grace we receive through Christ.
James invites us to play the role of the mediator who helps someone else turn their lives back to God. If we see a brother or sister wandering away from God or onto paths that lead to sin and darkness, we have a responsibility to help them. Our role is not to cast judgment or to ridicule that person for making foolish decisions. Instead, in love, we are to help them find the way back to God and back onto the path of righteousness. What a gift of mercy and kindness we can provide, and what a privilege to serve God by helping one of his children find redemption!
Of course, there are two sides to this type of story. James encourages us to help someone else find their way back to God, but we could just as easily be the one who needs help. It takes great humility to listen to correction or rebuke from a friend. It also takes courage to change your ways and to trust in God’s promise of forgiveness. When you turn back to God, you can be absolutely sure He will forgive. You can have complete confidence that God is waiting, like the father in Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son, for you to come home to his grace. That’s who God is. That’s why Jesus came into the world: to offer forgiveness to sinners like you and me. Your life is a redemption story, and so is mine. Without God’s grace we would be lost forever, but through Christ, we know for sure that He loves us and joyfully welcomes us back the moment we turn to our Savior for mercy.
Father, You love me more than I deserve and always treat me with kindness. I rejoice in Your grace and forgiveness. Help me to walk on the good path You set before me, and give me strength to help others walk with You also. I ask this through Jesus my Lord. Amen.
Thank you for reading these devotions from James. I hope they have been meaningful for you. I plan to begin a new series of devotions later this winter. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Pastor Mike Mirakian