In Season and Out of Season
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"Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins." (James 5:19-20 NKJV)
I remember, years ago, talking with the wife of one of my husbandís friends. This womanís husband and mine were off doing some project or other out in the garage, and the two of us were visiting over a cup of coffee in the kitchen. This was the first time we had met, so the conversation was going wherever it took us, and for some reason it took us to the topic of abortion.
I made the statement that I thought abortion was wrong, and she argued for the other side. The discussion was not heated, rather it became a thoughtful, debate, she giving the arguments she had heard concerning a womanís right to choose, and I witnessing to the Bibleís teachings. We parted amicably. We saw this couple only once again in our marriage. Our husbands had finished their mutual project, and we moved back out of one anotherís lives.
Several years later I received a letter from this woman. In it she told of how she had become pregnant, and since she was in her late thirties the doctor wanted to do an amniocentesis (a test for birth defects before a baby is born). The test results showed that the child had Downís Syndrome, a form of mental retardation. The doctor counseled that the wisest course for this couple would be to abort the child.
In her letter, she noted that she had remembered our conversation, and, after research of her own, had decided to keep the child. She was writing, she said, to thank me. She described the peace she experienced knowing that she had make the right and God-pleasing decision, and went on to tell of the joy this child had already brought to their home in the past four years.
Now letís reread the passage above: "Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins." (James 5:19-20 NKJV)
Does that give you goose bumps, or what? Yet how many times do we subscribe to the world and Satan telling us that speaking the truth is being judgmental? Have we ever let a Christian friend pursue a path that we know is harmful, but we donít want to bring up something that might hurt our friendship? How many conversations have we limited to non-controversial subjects in order to keep the peace? Good manners or a lack of love for others?
Or perhaps a love of self. We get self-protective. We donít want to suffer the anger or bad opinion of others. But, if God is to be believed, the opposite occurs. People do turn from sin. They often find the deep Christian concern of others not only welcome, but an essential ingredient in living a faithful life.
2 Timothy 4:2 reads, ďPreach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage Ė with great patience and careful instruction. (NIV)
So, from now on, letís resolve to let God be the conversation leader when we speak with others. He knows what people need to hear. We need to be willing to speak of the things of God, in season and out of season, with great patience and careful instruction. God can and does change peopleís hearts through our faithful obedience. And this, in turn, leads wandering folks to turn from sin, and save their souls from death and thus cover a multitude of sin.
Heavenly Father, we want to be faithful. From now on make our conversations with others be rich with thoughts and words from You. You have promised that Your Word does not return to you void. Keep us ever mindful of the cry for help emmanating from those around us, and Thank You, Lord, for the privilege of being Your messengers to the world. In Jesusí name we pray. Amen
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