Can you believe it’s already Chapter 5?! Yep. Today is the end of our Book of James Study. Remember to click here for the downloadable notes.
Here we go!
James covers three basics in Chapter 5 – warning to rich oppressors, patience in suffering, and the prayer of faith.
Warning To Rich Oppressors – Verses 1-6
This particular passage speaks mostly to those whom James believed were using people and not giving them their honest day’s wage. In that time, many people were sold into slavery to pay off debts. Because of that, they often died from starvation. So James is reminding those with money that their riches are fleeting and that God has seen their deeds and is keeping a record of it.
Patience In Suffering – Verses 7 – 12
Ah, patience. No one likes to talk about patience. Or practice it. Why? Because it’s hard. We get in a hurry. We need answers now. But James reminds us that we must be patient just as the farmer is patient for the crop to yield its fruit. He then takes it a step farther and talks about the perseverance of Job and the prophets.
That takes on a whole other dimension – the perseverance of Job. Now that was patience. What I take away from the story of Job is that even though he was patient, even though he persevered through the testing, he was still transparent about it – still real about it. He was hurting; he was frustrated; he was fed up with his friends useless blathering; he trusted God. Amazing, really.
Another point James makes here in this particular section is this: Don’t grumble against each other or you will be judged! Yikes! Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV) tells us that as well. “Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
That’s a tough one. But I know firsthand it is true. I can tell you that I have experienced the whole “reaping/sowing” thing when it comes to judging others. And it’s not fun. At. All.
James makes it clear once again, that judging is not something we do as a child of God. He is the One, True Righteous Judge. And yes, we will ultimately answer to Him for everything we do or say.
The Prayer of Faith – Verses 13-20
This particular section is very powerful. First of all in verses 13-15 James instructs us to not only ask for prayer, but basically be available should we be called on to anoint and pray for the sick. Notice this – it says, “The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.” Isn’t it interesting he didn’t say that the sick person needed faith? Obviously it’s God who does the healing, but our prayers are important when we go to Him interceding on behalf of those who need a touch.
Verses 16-18 talk about confessing our sins. Obviously we go to God ourselves, directly, for forgiveness of sins. Confessing our sins to one another is actually very important as well:
- If we have sinned against an individual, we must ask him or her to forgive us
- If our sin has affected the church, we must confess it publicly.
- If we need loving support as we struggle with a sin, we should confess that sin to those who are able to provide that support.
- If, after confessing a private sin to god, we still don’t feel His forgiveness, we may wish to confess it to a fellow believer and hear them assure us of God’s pardon.
1 Peter 2:9 tells us that in Christ’s kingdom, every believer is a priest to other believers. (Life Application Bible)
Verses 19-20 – James further declares that if any believer wanders from the truth, it is our responsibility to help bring them back. Whether you believe that a person can lose their salvation or not, we can all agree that sinning pulls us away from God and hinders our relationship with Him. So help each other out!
So the book of James was full of great stuff, right?! He stresses over and over that faith in action is important in the life of the believer. When we love one another, serve in humility and help those around us (with the right attitude, spirit and in love), we can be great examples to those around us who may not believe in Jesus at all!
We must not only believe God, but we must believe in God.