5 James

Author

Bill Huffman

Scripture

James 5:1-20

Observation

* James has been warning against worldliness in a number of ways before the beginning of this chapter and he makes a particularly strong statement here in v1-6 about the "miseries" coming to the rich from dependence on their wealth and from the cries of those the rich have cheated and murdered in gaining their wealth.  It's quite a daunting passage and if I didn't know and trust a merciful God it would be overwhelmingly frightening.

* James then begins in v 7-11 to counsel patience in waiting for the coming of the Lord.  Coming as it does after a warning against worldliness, I take it as a contrast to the worldliness.  The worldly must always strive for more, because their hope lies in the things of this world.  But we, who hope in the Lord, may trust and be patient as it is He who will bring out the things for which we hope.

* The warning against swearing in v12 seems to fit in as a warning not to try to manipulate others in our interactions with them, but simply to communicate honestly without trying to affect them by strong speech toward what we wish.  If our hope is in the Kingdom, then we don't need to do that.  This is one of the particular things not to do if we are to live as he's been describing

* James closes with particular things that we should do if we are to live as he's been describing.  If we're suffering, cheerful, sick, or in sin, we should pray, praise, call for the elders to pray, or confess our sins to one another.

* Finally, as a part of doing these things, James talks about praying for one another and explains to us that our prayers really are meaningful.  That our care for each other is truly wonderful and important to God.

Application

Two things make a strong impression on me as I study.  First, that I live as one of the better off in a wealthy town in a wealthy country in a wealthy time.  I don't think that's evil as God gave a number of His favorites (such as Abraham and David) a similar position.  But I am sure it requires great care to trust Him above all else and to be free with that wealth.  Perhaps to go overboard to ensure that I don't keep the wages of the hired hand, lay up earthly treasure, or condemn the righteous.

Secondly, and related, it is very easy for me to attempt to control what happens around me for my benefit.  I can only depend on Him to retrain me to give away what I think I need to control around me for the benefit of others - and the work God is doing.

Prayer

Lord, so much I fall into striving for my own benefit.  But all my benefit comes from you.  Remake my heart until I look to you for my benefit and give myself away to the benefit of others.  Sometimes I do it right, but please remake me until it's not sometimes but rather minute by minute and day by day that I look to the benefit of others and trust you for myself.

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