My Brother’s Keeper
James 5:19,20 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
James previously warned me not to judge others, but this does not mean that I am to ignore destructive behaviors in my brothers and sisters. Here, in his final words, James describes accountability, the antithesis of being judgmental.
In a courtroom, it is clear that the judge is seated above the defendant, looking down at him or her. This is not the position I am to take with those around me. I am to come along side my brothers or sisters and lovingly bring them back if they wander. They are to do the same with me.
I have found that when I try to explain to others that they are sinners and need to follow God, the reception is cool. When however, I share my own struggles in life and explain what God means to me, doors open. This does not mean that I abandon truth. It just means that I do not stand above others, looking down at them. I have failed and I still sin. I need God just as badly as the person I’m speaking to, so in humility, I can share what Jesus means to me. This will always be more effective than playing the part of the condescending judge.
I would never have chosen for my failures to be public knowledge but in becoming public, God made something wonderful happen. I can now talk openly about my life, my struggles and my destructive defects. I am not thankful for the pain I have caused but I am tremendously thankful that God has used it to allow me to reach out to others in need.
When we keep our issues a secret and try to help others along, we falsely elevate ourselves. It is in our brutal honesty about our own life defects that others will see us as honest, sincere and caring. I am not saying you have to wear a T-shirt that says I struggle with lust, but it is important that if you do struggle with lust that you find some close friends that you can be honest with. We all need those who understand our life defects and in whom we can confide about our failures and successes.
Honesty and openness do not automatically eradicate defects, but if we want to work on our destructive behaviors, honesty and openness are prerequisites. If we want to help others, we have to be honest about ourselves. In the name of privacy and dignity, I kept my destructive behaviors hidden in a closet for years and suffered the consequences.
So, now, I can openly share with others the struggles I have had. It is much easier to shine the light on a brother’s wandering if I am honest about my own tendency to wander. James says that this in this mutual accountability, we will save each other from death and will cover a multitude of sins.