My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth…(James 5:19).
Does your mind ever wander? Sometimes I need reminders to stay alert. Especially when it comes to listening to God. Too many voices clamor for my attention. Besides, my human nature is weak and unpredictable. Sometimes I get distracted from my purpose and even from my focus on Christ.
Maybe you can relate to this line from “Come thou Fount,” an eighteenth century hymn:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love…
In our journey through James, we’ve seen a glimpse into his heart. In five short chapters, he has given us a how-to manual for Christian living. Like any good coach, he encourages us to develop a powerful and vibrant faith that will withstand the storms of life.
James longs to see a strong community of sturdy believers. So he warns us about things like selfish ambition, prayerlessness, and materialism that distract and divide us. Plus, he gives us a power-packed prayer tutorial with Elijah as our mentor.
James gives a final caution about wandering from the truth. The Greek word translated wander means “to be deceived or deluded.” It’s related to words such as error, deception,or imposter.
My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins (James 5:19, 20 NIV).
Do you see the connection here between wandering and believing a lie? The wanderer has been deceived by some error. False teaching and the love of money are among the many causes of wandering. But behind these and all other lies stands the devil—the age-old enemy of our souls.
Wandering is the path of least resistance. As I used to tell my kids, the path of least resistance will eventually become the hardest hill you’ll ever climb. Shiny decoys and alluring lies have always enticed us humans to wander. Why should the devil try any new tricks when his old ones work so well?
Lord, let the lines of this hymn be my prayer today: “O to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be! Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; prone to leave the one I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.” Lord, guard my heart against wandering. Remind me I’m in a battle!