Warning to the Rich:5:1-6.
In this passage James warns against social injustice. Christians should not lead double-minded life styles. Christians should mourn over their covetousness and over their unfair employment practices. They should not forget that lasting security can be found only in the Lord and not in material things. Wealth will not last forever. It is not a sin to be wealthy but it is wrong to amass wealth by dishonest means. Jesus said,”Do not store up treasures here on earth but in heaven” (Matt 6:19-20). It is morally wrong to hoard riches when so many people in the world are in desperate need of hearing the gospel. The resources God has gives us should be used for the benefit of others because they will stand as evidences against us on the Day of Judgment (James 5:3). It is a sin to exploit workers by not paying them proper wages. Though they have no one to plead for them, their cry is heard in heaven. Uncontrolled desire for wealth for self indulgent is like animals fattened just before their execution. It is wrong to exploit helpless workers by threats. God gives grace to the humble rather than those who are proud and think they are powerful and important. Pray that God would change your heart to show his generous grace to the weak and needy.
Patience in Suffering: 5:7-12.
Suffering and trials are inescapable in this fallen world (John 16:33). James exhorts believers to endure suffering patiently as they wait for the return of the Lord (5:8). To illustrate this, James gives the example of farmers who patiently wait for the harvest. Likewise Christians should view suffering as a preparation process that helps them to be conformed to the image of Christ. Patience is not a passive virtue. It is enduring wrong treatment without retaliation. Farmers help each other. Likewise in suffering, Christians should not attack each other but help each other. We should not grumble against another, so that you may not be judged (5:9). They should live in anticipation of Christ’s soon return. Christians should not cultivate bitter attitude against each other. The examples of the prophets who endured suffering should encourage us in our trials. Job, who endured loss of property, family and health, stands out as an example of endurance to us. Also Job’s trials demonstrate the purpose and character of God. Our Lord may permit sufferings in our life to accomplish his purpose. Job understood that how compassionate and merciful is God even in his sufferings (James 5:11). James asked us to consider trials as an opportunity for great joy (James 1:3). How it possible? First of all suffering helps us to draw closer to God (Psalms 119:67, 71). It prepares us for the reward of the crown of life (James 1:12). God has promised us his grace and strength to endure sufferings (2 Cor 12:7-9). Suffering in the Christian life is no cause for shame (1 Pet 4:12, 13). Sometimes suffering could be our own making by willful disobedience (1 Pet 4:15). Christians should not swear to make others to believe. Let our yes be yes and no be no, so that we may not fall under condemnation (5:12).
The Prayer of Faith: 5:13.
James was a man of prayer. He is known as a man with camel knee. Many people are too proud and busy to pray. Prayer is asking God to help us in our needs. We don’t receive God’s blessing because we do not pray. It is the will of God that we should pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17). Prayer is communication with God. It is called the ACTS. It simply means prayer includes adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. Prayer is not getting our will be done in heaven but getting God’s will be done in our life. It is not persuading God to move things on our way. Also prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance but laying hold of His promises. It is not vain repetitions but intelligent expressions of our heartfelt thanksgiving. Prayer is not a religious exercise but the heartfelt cry to our heavenly Father. We should pray in the Holy Spirit. Prayer is the declaration of our dependence on God. It is important to pray for spiritual, emotional and physical needs. Prayer is the key to unlocking God’s power. If anybody is cheerful let him sing. Early Church was a singing Church. Prayer lifts the burdens from us. A praying church will be a dynamic church.
The Prayer for the Sick: 5:14-18.
If anyone among you is sick, let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. In illness, confess our sins and call the elders to pray. Such prayer offered in faith will heal the sick and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven (5:14, 15). Some suggest that his sickness is due to sin. But God alone knows it and we must leave the judgment to God. The sick person must take the initiative to call the elders. God honors united prayer (Matt 18:19). The prayer offered in faith in the privacy of the home will heal the sick. The real source of healing is the Lord. The anointing of the oil symbolizes the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the scriptures. If the sickness is due to sin, it shall be forgiven. James appeals that we should confess our sins to one another and pray so that we may be healed. Private sins should be confessed privately and open sins should be confessed openly. The earnest prayer has great power to produce wonderful results. The prayer of Elijah is an example (1 King 19:1-4). Elijah had a nature like ours, not perfect and stumbling as we do (5:17-18). Most of our prayers are ineffective because they are not the outcry of our hearts to God but we pray to impress people.
Conclusion: 5:19, 20.
James concludes his letter with a call to restore "anyone" who "wonders from the faith" (5:19). What a blessing to restore a backsliding believer!. It is sin to err from the truth. James warns that backsliding may lead to physical death if not repented (1 Cor 11:30). Those who wander from the truth are in the path of danger and destruction. We must pray for their restoration and ask God to give them a heart that is receptive to his Word. God alone can restore the backslider from doctrinal error but he uses his servants to achieve it. Scripture says “For we are laborers together with God” (1 Cor 3:9). May God use this study for the blessing of many!