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Janet's Corner

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Lesson 24 -- Real Faith Doesn't Walk Alone

 

As we wind up our study on James this week, we want to look at the last two verses of this epistle and then review by asking ourselves a few questions.

James 5:19-20

How do these two verses relate to the verses that precede these as well as the purpose of the whole letter James has written?

These verses call us to go to our fellow believers when we see them slipping away from the truth of God and not just pray for them, but seek to help them turn back to the right path. "Wandering" suggests a gradual moving away from the will of God. It’s that slippery slope of indifference to the things of God or letting go of your first love, Jesus. In the Old Testament this was called backsliding - slipping back into old patterns and attitudes and affections.

As we take them in context of verse 13-18, we see the instruction that we need a group of believers with whom we might openly share the struggles of our faith knowing that within this group we would find the personal, intercessory support that we each need as believers. We have been called to be in communion with others, finding that safe place where we can confess our faults and pray for one another, that we might be healed. If this is already an established place or pattern in our lives, verse 19-20 can easily be fulfilled. There will be an open door of respect and trust when we see another who is wandering away with whom we have developed a relationship, we will be able to share in love the truth of their wanderings. So that they might be healed – restored. For the dangers of wandering from the truth not only have a detrimental effect on the one who is wandering, but the whole church. Ecclesiastes 9:18 says "Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good." So as we seek to keep each other accountable through truth and prayer, God will make individuals and the church healthy.

As we reflect on this passage in relationship to the whole book, we remember that James’ purpose is to have us walk out our faith in the real world - real faith for the world that God has placed us in. He has been exhorting us to give evidence to our faith through our lives. What we believe should effect our actions and our words. It should shape the way we live Our faith should define our lifestyle. I cherish those relationships that God has given me to keep me from wandering from the truth. My desire is to do God’s will. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 states this principle very clearly. What a beautiful picture of two people walking together helping each other. "Two are better than one." Why? Because they have a good return for their work. Not only can you get the work done faster, but the product can be better! God has work for us to do and we can not do it alone! And there are dangers along the way. One of us might fall down! Look at verse 10 – who is there to help us up? The other one that is working with us! Then Solomon goes on to say not only is there help when you fall, but there is prevention from falling. "…if two lie down together, they will keep each other warm." You can’t keep warm alone! Why is that prevention spiritually? We encourage each other in the things of the Lord, not just help each other up when we fall. We encourage each other to stay close to the truth and grow in the truth, to stay close to the Lord and not wander. "Iron sharpens iron," says Proverbs 27:17. Then in verse twelve he says that when two are walking together even though one may be overpowered – by temptation or a lie - two can defend themselves.We can’t do it alone. We need each other. Two are better than one. Then Solomon sums it up. Two are good, but three are better! Verse 12b says, " a cord of three strands is not quickly broken." The bond, like a rope of three strands – you, another, and the Lord – will not be quickly broken.

As we put this truth of keeping others accountable to the truth and subsequently to the Lord, we must always do it with an attitude of love.

We have seen that mercy triumphs over judgment in the book of James. As we seek to keep others from wandering from the truth, we are not passing judgment, but allowing the truth to turn them back. We are showing them the mercy of God, because as we speak the truth in love we are helping the sinner to face sins and deal with them, helping the sinner know and receive the forgiveness of sin – so they can be restored. Restoration is always the goal! And just as all the other instruction in the book of James calls us to be doers of the word, not just hearers, God is calling us to be doers of this truth as well. For the good of the individuals that we love and for the church as a whole. A powerful last instruction to us through this letter written to each other by our Lord!

Remember our glasses? We need to look at the Word intently so that it can be mirrored in our lives. So that we become doers of the Word, not just hearers. God longs for us to give evidence to what we believe through our lives. As we have walked through this epistle of James, we could get hung up on the doing - of what we have to do to please God, to reflect His glory here in this world. How we need to keep the balance of law and grace! God has given us a picture of what faith looks like through this epistle and He longs to give us the grace to walk it out in our lives. We can’t do it alone!

And so I would leave you for the summer with some questions to reflect on, so that you can by God’s grace and truth, become doers of the word, not just hearers.

Each of these questions reflects a section of this letter of James that we have studied. I pray that the Holy Spirit would use them to encourage you to stay on that road to maturity, to wholeness, to perfection or completion.

1.  Am I becoming more patient in the testings/trials of life?

2.  Do I play with temptation or resist it from the start?

3.  Do I merely study the Word of God, or do I find joy in obeying it?

4.  Are there any prejudices that keep me from loving others?

5.  Am I able to control my tongue?

6.  Do I seek, receive, and put into practice the wisdom of God which enables me to be a peacemaker, not a troublemaker?

7.  Am I a friend of the world, or a friend of God?

8.  Do I make plans without considering the will of God?

9.  Does my prayer life reflect dependency on God, not myself in times of trouble?

10. Am I someone who others seek for prayer support?

11. Do I seek prayer support?

12. What’s my attitude toward someone who is wandering from the truth? Do I criticize and gossip or do I seek to restore him in love?

Walk with the Lord and be a blessing!

Stay close to Him!

Grow up in Him!

Allow your life to give evidence to the ONE in whom you believe –

The Lord Jesus Christ!