James Chapter 5

In Chapter 5 James focuses on the different types of people, based on how they affect or handle the trial:

  • Some cause the trial.
  • Some complicate the situation (by opening their mouth to judge, complain, grumble or hurt) and bring judgment / sickness upon themselves.
  • Some find it difficult to handle the trial. They don’t have the wisdom needed and lose patience or focus.
  • Some handle the trial well.
  • Some help the people through whom the trial comes, bringing great favor from God upon their life.

1-5 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! 4 Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. 5 You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.

The rich man who acquired his riches illegally or by exploiting others will be judged. These words are a comfort to the poor who have been exploited and robbed by the rich.

People who cause trials for others are going to be slaughtered on the Day of Judgment.

In particular, if you take advantage of others just because you have the opportunity then God, who observes what you did, will punish you. Your riches will not be able to deliver you from the hands of God.

7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. 8 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.

If you have been dealt with unjustly then you need to be patient and wait for the Lord to judge those who have dealt with you unjustly.

9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

While waiting, don’t complain, especially against those who have dealt with you unjustly. If you complain then you will be judged too.

10-11 As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.

If you want an example of those who have suffered patiently, consider the Old Testament prophets. Consider Job! Can’t you see how God showed Himself to be full of compassion and mercy in the end? So trust God and wait.

12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.

Since you don’t know what may happen tomorrow, don’t foolishly make emphatic, definite statements about tomorrow. Don’t talk about what you’ll do to these evil doers tomorrow or when you get an upper hand.

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.

If you are finding it hard to handle the trial, ask God to help you.

If you are finding it easy to handle the trial, thank God for it!

14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.

If you are sick because of God’s judgment upon you, ask the elders of the church to pray for you. Let them pour oil on your head asking God to heal you. If they are righteous men of faith then God will heal you. If you were sick because of sin then your sins will be forgiven too if you confess them to the elders and to those whom you’ve sinned against.

If you are a man of God in a trial, did you know that your prayer can accomplish much – if you, like Elijah, are a man of God? So pray when enduring a trial, for yourself, and for those who are a pain in your butt. Don’t judge them, don’t preach to them, don’t grumble or complain about them – no, instead pray for them, because if they turn away from sin because of your prayers you have saved their butt, and God is going to deal very leniently with you. This is because you have gone beyond mercy. You’ve not only not thrown them into the pit when you could have, but you have actually pulled them out of the pit.

19 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20 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.

If someone throws you into a pit you need to forgive them.

If you climb out and can now throw them into the pit but you don’t then you are showing them mercy.

If you climb out and see that they have fallen into the pit and you help them get out then you are going beyond mercy. That is the place you want to be.

James ends his epistle rather abruptly, saying no more than what was necessary. So shall I.


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