Matters of Faith: Every Soul Counts

By Rev. J. Loren Russell, BA, MDiv.

James 5:19-20

“My friends, if any followers have wandered away from the truth, you should try to lead them back. If you turn sinners from the wrong way, you will save them from death, and many of their sins will be forgiven.”

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked a question that has challenged all of us for many years. He asked, “What are you doing for others?” The question is challenging because our focus and attention can easily be targeted on our own situations. Circumstances in our own lives often prevents us from being concerned about the affairs of others. However, there have been times when we’ve been able to break free of the vicissitudes of our personal lives and lend ourselves to the betterment of others. Sometimes we have actually done things to turn sinners away from the road of perdition.

James, who authored our focal text challenges us to be concerned about those who have wondered away from the truth of God’s word. He tells us that we should try to steer them back to the right path. James prompts us not to just sit idly by and watch as someone goes further and further astray. We have to save them from death; not their physical death, but their spiritual death. Spiritual death is much more tragic than physical death because it separates our infinite soul from an eternity with the Lord. Of great importance is the fact that once they are led back, many of their sins will be forgiven. That blessing is experienced in their physical life. The souls of the one who is shown, and the one who leads the other back to the pathway, both count in God’s kingdom. They are connected and one cannot exist without the other.

Dr. King said in his letter from a Birmingham Jail, “In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be… This is the inter-related structure of reality.” Nothing that effects one-person bypasses another. Every act of kindness or every act of avarice influences the whole of humanity. If we take the reality of our interrelated structure seriously, we would do just what Jesus told us to do; “love one another; as I have loved you…. (John 13:34)

Last’s week article challenged us to be concerned about one another for the good of the whole. This week, I challenge you to go beyond just being concerned and to act on the one thing that we can do to make a difference in the lives of others. I challenge you to love one another.

Whether we are being led or leading someone back to the path of truth, we must remember that it is truly a matter of life or death…, because every soul counts.

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx, President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial & Strategic Consulting, and hosts “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio on Mondays, 8:00 – 10:00 PM. Or listen by phone at 626-226-1448. Be sure to friend “Matters of Faith” on Facebook, Twitter @jlorenr, and email us at

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