Warning to the Rich: James 5:1-6.
In this passage James warns against social injustice. Christians should not lead double-minded lifestyles. 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” (Matthew 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 given us should be used for the benefit of others. Otherwise it will stand as evidence 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. Those who are proud think that they are powerful and important. God will judge them. God would give grace to those who are generous to others.
Patience in Suffering: James 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 criticize each other but help each other. We should not grumble against another, so that you may not be judged (5:9). Christians should live in anticipation of Christ’s soon return. Christians should not cultivate bitter attitudes 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 how compassionate and merciful God is even in his sufferings (James 5:11). James asked us to consider trials as an opportunity to rejoice (James 1:3). How is 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 Corinthians 12:7-9). Suffering in the Christian life is no cause for shame (1 Peter 4:12, 13). Christians should not take pride in suffering that was their own making by willful disobedience (1 Peter 4:15). Christians should not swear. Let our yes be yes and no be no, so that we may not fall under condemnation.
The Prayer of Faith: James 5:13.
James was a man of prayer. He is known as a man with camel knees. Many people are too proud and busy to pray. Prayer is asking God to help us in our needs. We don’t receive because we don't pray. It is the will of God that we should pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer is communication with God. It is our lifeline to God. Prayer includes adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. Prayer is not getting our will done in heaven but getting God’s will in our life. It is not forcing God to move things on our way. Also prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance but laying hold of His promises. Prayer is not vain repetitions but intelligent expressions of our heartfelt thanksgiving. Prayer is not a religious exercise but a heartfelt cry to our heavenly Father. We should pray in the Holy Spirit. Prayer is the declaration of our sincere 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 praise to the Lord. Early Church was a singing Church. Prayer lifts the burdens from us. A praying church is a dynamic church. It is missing in the church today. How is your prayer life?.
The Prayer for the Sick: James 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. Believers should pray for each other so that they may be healed. Is anyone among you sick, let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray for him. 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 was a man with a nature like ours and he prayed fervently (5:17-18). Most of our prayers are ineffective because they are not the outcry of our hearts to God but prayer to impress others.
Conclusion: James 5:19, 20.
James concludes his letter with a call to restore anyone who wanders 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 illness and sometimes death if not repented (1 Corinthians 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 Corinthians 3:9). May God use this study for your blessing!