The Cover

“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:19-20
The Book of James doesn’t give much encouragement to the concept of sinless perfection. There is a very clear indication of the need for sinners in the early church to turn around and face the truth. They had a tendency to stray and wander into error. Believers with soul-saving grace were responsible to turn each other back to the truth at the first sign of straying from it.
The dashboard of a car is filled with all kinds of warning lights, bells, and symbols. It is never wise to put tape over a flashing light on the dashboard, and hope for the best. Check the engine.
When you hear a person speaking error, they have been contemplating it for a long time. Ignoring what they are saying is like putting tape over their mouth. It will not stop them from straying. Check their heart.
“Stray” refers to error of thought that reveals itself in action. Stinking thinking has always led to poor choices. The initiation of straying is preceded by the contemplation of error.
The Book of James calls for the turning of a sinner “from the error of his way.” This is an appeal for a covering, not a cover up. “Cover” refers to the hindering of the knowledge of a thing, or a crashing wave covering a boat. To cover means to veil or hide sin from prying eyes and gossiping tongues, but it can also mean a wave crashing into the side of wayward ship. Sometimes that is what is needed to put it back on course. 
Hiding sin by hiding the truth rarely ends well, but exposing sin to those who are not in a position to pardon it, only compounds the error. Those who are unable to play a part in the solution for sin do not need to be included in the pollution of it.
This kind of covering requires a turnaround on the part of the sinner who is straying. “Sin” is described as missing the mark. The sinner has not only missed the bulls-eye; he has missed the target. Pointing it out to the sinner, should take place without moving the target closer to the sinner. Moving the target would be lowering God’s standard. That is a cover up, not a covering.
A turnaround on the part of the sinner begins with full disclosure to the right person, not an indecent exposure to the wrong people. The circle of a public confession of sin should never be any wider than the circle of the offense. Keep it tight.
The early church was not an ancient expression of “The Jerry Springer Show.” Wide-open exposure of sin rarely brings true confession and genuine repentance, just shame and resentment. The call to cover a sinner was not a matter of covering up their sin. It was a challenge to tell a sinner their pants were unzipped without shouting it from the housetops.
NOTE TO SELF: You are never more like Jesus than when you pray for someone who is in error. It prepares your heart to do something about it. Confronting sin without praying for the sinner is usually a race to judgment, not a path to pardon. Slow down the race. Show some grace. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!
 “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8