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Effective

I got my first physical well into my forties. It wasn’t so much because I thought it was time or because I really wanted to, but because I needed the nagging to stop. Between my wife and my little brother, I was being nagged in stereo about how I needed to go and do it because you never know what may be lurking. I know how much effort I put into my physical health, so as far as I’m concerned, every day is a gift. I’m a realist about everything in life, so blowing out a hundred-year candle isn’t a likely scenario. Then again, God’s sense of humor may just allow me to outlive the guy in the bicycle shorts trying to jog in a foot of snow.

Even those staunchly opposed to going to the doctor will eventually relent if the pain gets bad enough. After they get tired of guessing whether it’s a mole or a tumor, after the home remedies have been exhausted and WebMD has not found the cure for what ails them, they’ll reluctantly pick up the phone and try to schedule an appointment only to be told that the doctor can see them in three months.

The same goes for those who are aware of some sort of spiritual malady in their lives that they think they can manage on their own or are too ashamed or embarrassed to confess to another. Eventually, if their conscience isn’t seared, and if they’ve not been handed over, their need to be rid of the joy killer in their lives, their need to be rid of the sin succubus that is robbing them of their peace and fellowship with God will outweigh the discomfort of opening up to a brother or a sister and confessing their trespass. There’s no managing an invasive species set on your destruction. People have tried, they still do, but the outcome is always the same. Sin can’t be managed; it must be excised. It must be confessed, repented of, nevermore to be revisited.

This is not a matter of opinion; it’s what the Bible prescribes. There are no home remedies for sin. You can’t brew a special kind of tea or eat your weight in cayenne pepper to be rid of it. Drinking a thimble full of apple cider vinegar, even the kind with mother will not expunge the stain; only the blood of Jesus will. When a trespass is confessed and repented of, the hold is broken, the cell is opened, and the individual can walk into the light of freedom.

James goes on to tell us that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. By an effective prayer, he means one that can produce a result or one that will have an effect. The caveat is that for the prayer to be effective, it must be prayed by a righteous man. Once more we see the operative word being righteous, not popular, or well-rehearsed. A righteous man, praying a fervent prayer, will have an effect because the prayers of such individuals avail much.

God doesn’t check pedigree when a prayer is prayed. He doesn’t check whether someone is wearing the latest designer suit or has a diamond-encrusted watch on their wrist. God’s only metric is righteousness, and the fervent prayer of a righteous man has an impact. It garners results. Knowing this, ought we not first and foremost pursue righteousness rather than all the other things with which we are constantly distracted? Ought we not be seeking to draw near to God rather than to increase our online presence or influence?

What works for the world doesn’t work for the church. The means and mechanisms the world uses to grow a brand, increase market share, or become a mainstay cannot be applied to the household of faith with the intent of garnering the same result. It may work for a time, it may grow a church for a season, but it’s artificial, and those who flock to things like the seeker-friendly model will fall away just as readily because their spiritual man is not being fed or matured.

If we cut off an appendage every time it hurt rather than try to restore it and bring it back to health, everyone would be hobbling around with multiple amputations, wondering what member was next on the chopping block. We must discern the difference between leprosy and muscle strain and treat them accordingly. If someone comes to confess a trespass, asks for prayer, and is repentant, we do not cut them off but seek to restore them to the body. If, however, they are unrepentant, revel in their sin, and become defined by it, unwilling to humble themselves or seek to be restored, then for the sake of the rest of the body, they must be removed.

We’ve all encountered those who have fallen into sin and chose to wallow in it, finding justifications and excuses to continue down the path of destruction. Until and unless they realize they need healing, until and unless they call for the elders of the church to come and pray over them, having confessed their trespasses, they will continue to shun the light and embrace the darkness with greater fervor.

You may love someone, see the destructive pattern they’ve adopted, warn them about it, and counsel them to turn away from it, but you can’t force repentance on anyone. That must be a choice they make, an avenue they pursue, and a decision they come to.

We can point the way to Jesus, we can point the way to the light, and we can speak the truth in love to those in bondage, but they must desire to be free, unburden themselves, and shake off the shackles of sin.

The spiritual health of a church body takes precedence over all else. To maintain spiritual health, we must first examine ourselves regularly and, if anything is amiss, have the humility necessary to reach out for help.

When we fail to examine ourselves, when we fail to be open and confess our trespasses, the molehill becomes a mountain, and eventually, like clockwork, the sin finds the individual out, and shame is brought to the household of faith. This is a proven fact, not some hypothesis, and the examples are too many to number, with new blots and blemishes being exposed on what seems like a daily basis.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Posted on 26 March 2024 | 8:37 am

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