Monday, 16 September 2019
Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, James 5:19
This is the opening to the final thought in the book of James. Many Greek manuscripts say, “My brethren” here. This is more likely based on how he opened his epistle. In verse 1:2, it uses the word “my,” and that is probably the true rendering here. Either way, he then begins his final thoughts with, “if any among you wanders from the truth.”
The word is not uncommon, and it is variously translated elsewhere as deceived, misguided, go astray, wander, mistaken, and so on. It signifies going off course or deviating from the correct path.
The word is planaó, and it is the root of our word “planet.” As the planets are wandering bodies in the heavenlies, this word is fitting for someone who is not fixed and grounded, but who has swayed from the truth. This can be both in doctrine or in simple logic. It can also be in straying morally from what is right, and so on. If such is the case, James then says, “and someone turns him back.”
The idea here is not specifically of someone who has never been saved. It could be a saved person or even an unsaved person. Either way, the individual is someone who is following the wrong path. One can think of someone truly looking for proper faith and yet he wanders into a Jehovah’s Witnesses assembly. Or it could be someone who has faith in Christ, but who then wanders into the Hebrew Roots movement. The person was heading towards the truth and got misdirected.
A perfect example of this, right from Scripture, is found in Galatians 2 where Paul had to redirect Peter to the truth of the gospel. Peter was fully aware of the freedom found in Christ, but he strayed from that truth. Eventually, he got his feet properly directed and returned from the Heresy Highway to Right Doctrine Road.
Life application: Even though this verse is incomplete without verse 20, lessons can still be learned from it.
1) People do wander from the truth after having accepted it. Peter, in his second epistle, states that some people can actually forget that they have been saved, and yet he notes that they remain saved. It is a point that cries out for the doctrine of eternal salvation.
2) Those that have strayed from the truth can be brought back. They have not lost their salvation, nor have they committed some unpardonable sin by straying.
However, in the coming verse, we will see what some of the consequences are when we do fall away. Are you keeping an eye out concerning your walk with Christ? It is so easy to let a day go by without reading the Bible, then another, and then another. Likewise, when we let our prayers lapse, it is so easy to continue down that path. And, even if you are walking with Christ faithfully, are you making sure your family and friends are as well? Keep an eye on those you love and help them to walk with the Lord and not stray. Turn them back and you will be doing them a favor and be found pleasing to the Lord as well.
Lord, help us to be watchful over our walk with You. Also, help us to keep our eyes on our family and friends. We all need to be re-directed from time to time, so help us to be watchful and faithful servants so that we may be there when others stumble in their walk. To Your glory O Lord! Amen.