James 5: 19-20 19My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
I went grocery shopping the other night. I know that doesn’t sound all that eventful, but it was, I assure you. First of all, I had all the kids with me. Yes, four kids ages 22 months to 8. I went to the store for one item – butter. Bethany was home making dinner and we were out of butter and so I volunteered to run to the store. All the kids wanted to go with me, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt. I grabbed the grocery ad on the way out the door and headed off. When I arrived at the store, I noticed there were some other things we needed and they were in the ad, so I might as well grab them. I swung by the bakery and got cookies for the kids, so they were happy and quite well behaved. But LeeAnna decided after a few minutes that she didn’t like the cart, the store, me, etc. So she starts crying and I decide to grab a few more coupon items and make my way to the register. We wait in line, she is crying. We unload the cart, she is crying. We check out, she is crying. Then it happens: I hand the coupons to the cashier and they don’t work. She says, “are these from this week’s ad?” Apparently they were not and I grabbed an old ad or something. So here I have some bagfuls of overpriced items, a crying baby, and an unsympathetic cashier who was trying to close down and go home for the day.
I can’t believe I messed that up. I didn’t want all those items anymore. I had like 4 packages of $4 butter and there was no way I was paying that price – cranky LeeAnna or not. So I start handing stuff to the cashier to take off. But I still needed butter. She’s not offering any help. So I grab LeeAnna and run back to get butter in the $2 price range. I am not sure what was more frustrating, my total failure at shopping the correct ad or the cashiers complete disregard for my predicament. She offered no help, she offered no condolences. She just stood there and looked at me like, “what are you gonna do?”
As I reflected on situation, I do realize that I messed up. But it would have been really nice if she would have offered to go grab another butter or do anything remotely sympathetic to the situation. It would have been nice to have had help remedying the situation. Then it dawned on me this morning as I was reading James chapter 5. It’s one thing to point out someone’s failures (sins), but it is an entirely different thing to help that person out in their sin. And by help out I mean help them remedy the situation, help them with the solution. We are not to be Christians who point out sin, we are to be Christians who show people the solution. And James tells us that this is a very good thing. When we turn others from the error of their ways, we save them from death and cover them with the same grace that covered us in Christ Jesus.