James 5:19-20 (NLT)
19 My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, 20 you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.
James is writing to brothers and sisters in Christ; which are Christians within the church. He reminds them it is possible for them to wander off into sin. James is always exhorting Christians to live moral and Godly lives, but he also reminds them they are capable of following the path of sin. When a Christian wanders into sin they are prone to error and subject to consequences. Bringing a Christian back to the truth not only saves them from the consequences that could affect life, it also has a positive impact on the lives around them.
In an article for ChristianityToday.com entitled "Our Divine Distortion," Christian songwriter Carolyn Arends shared a personal story that shows how easy it is to view friends as enemies when we are racked by shame or guilt�a dangerous trait that can have an impact on how we view God. She writes:
Condensed from an on-line article by Christianity Today magazine Carolyn Arends states: When I found a brand new lap-top for half price on eBay, I told my friend and musical colleague Spencer about my bargain of a find. He was worried: "Usually when something's too good to be true �" "I know," I replied impatiently, "but the seller has a 100 percent approval rating." "Be careful," warned Spencer.
"Of course," I assured him, annoyed. I wasn't born yesterday. I sent the seller $1,300 and discovered in very short, sickening order that I had fallen prey to a classic scam. A fraudster had hacked someone's eBay identity in order to relieve easy marks like me of our money. I felt [like a] fool�and didn't want to tell Spencer. The next time I saw his number on my caller ID, I didn't answer. I could just imagine his "I told you so." Soon, I was avoiding Spencer completely. And I started to resent him. Why did he have to be so judgmental? Why couldn't he be on my side? Why was I ever friends with that jerk? Eventually, we had to fly together to perform at a concert. "Whatever happened with that computer thing?" he asked an hour into the flight. Cornered, I finally confessed my foolishness, dreading the inevitable response. But as soon as I told Spencer about my mistake, a strange thing happened. The enemy I had turned him into evaporated. Spencer turned into Spencer again, my teasing but deeply empathetic buddy. As embarrassed as I was by my eBay error, I felt even dumber about the way I had allowed my shame to distort my perception of a best friend. If my hand had not been forced, I would have remained estranged from him indefinitely. I've always considered myself perceptive, but the longer I live, the more I discover my susceptibility to misinterpretation. This is true of the way I view my friends, truer of the way I see my enemies, and perhaps truest of the way I perceive God. [Carolyn Arends, "Our Divine Distortion," ChristianityToday.com (12-18-09)]