James 5: 19 – 20
My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
Remember Itzhak Stern’s inscription in Schindler’s gold ring at the end of Schindler’s List? “Whoever saves one life, saves the World entire” It is a quote from the Talmud, a collection of writings on the Hebrew Bible and Law which were compiled in the centuries after the destruction of the Temple by Tiberius and the Diaspora. There must have been earlier such writings with which James would have been familiar and it is the sentiments of that quote he is celebrating in the conclusion of his letter.
To bring someone to faith, or back to faith, is possibly the greatest achievement one can aspire to as a Christian. On leaving a Church in which I served at one time at the end of my final service a lady who had been widowed very early in my tenure there shook my hand warmly and said “Thank you for all you have done for me”. I thought she meant during her bereavement but she added “You brought me back into the fold”, quite possibly the best compliment I have been paid as a minister.
Remember what Jesus said about there being more joy in Heaven over one reformed sinner. No one though comes to faith by themselves all of us in one way or another have been introduced to the faith by parents or teachers or friends or someone who helped us but somewhere along the line someone has taken the trouble to show or tell us about Jesus and we have in our time (or God’s) opened our hearts to him. The Gideon Bible organisation have a saying along the lines of “When the spirit of God meets the word of God in a prepared heart Miracles happen” Indeed but someone must help us prepare that heart so the Spirit can work his miracle in that life. Fanny Crosby in her great hymn has it “Every offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives” Wesley has the prisoner leaping to lose his chains and fearing no condemnation as now he walks with God in the light.
Origen wrote that saving another from his sin is one of the ways of ensuring our own sins are forgiven. Barclay tells of a very devout lady who cornered William Wilberforce the slavery reformer (and grateful friend of Lord Melville who despite recent press did a lot to facilitate the end of slavery in conjunction with Wilberforce – but that’s another story) at a reception after telling him of the need for good Christian practice asked him if he had saved his soul to which Wilberforce answered “Madam I have been so busy saving other’s souls I have scarce had time to tend to my own”
Those who bring sunshine into other’s lives cannot but help bring sunshine into their own.
Those who bring others to faith do no less than share in the great work of Jesus to be the saviour of mankind and to save the entire World.
Lord God our loving Father in Heaven, we thank you that when we needed a guide you sent someone to show us the way to you. If it be your will, help us to be a guide to others so all may come to cry Glory in your name.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,