Monday, May 04, 2009

James 5:1-18


When I look at these 18 verses as a whole, it seems to be moving in one direction-we must pray (13). Prayer is simply talking and listening to God. The primary purpose of prayer is to exercise TRUST in the Lord. It's interesting to note that in the case of nearly two-thirds of the prayers offered in the bible, the people praying already knew the answer but were praying anyway. Praying is trusting! When you pray, you are bending your heart along with your knee toward the Lord saying that you are trusting in Him for whatever it is that you are bringing before Him.

Here James is exhorting the believers who are trusting in something other than God or doing things in response to their life conditions other than trust. Let's look at each one: 1-Why pray (trust in God) when you can trust in your own riches? 1 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 Sabbath. 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.

There is a horrendous responsibility on those who are rich. First of all, because of their riches it makes it impossible to get into the kingdom of God. Their riches can buy people, places and things for their enjoyment. This then leads toward trusting in those riches. Fortunately, God can do the impossible, so He makes it possible for rich people to be able to put their trust in Him rather than in their riches. Instead of just enjoying their people, places and things amassed by their riches, they learn to use these riches for the kingdom and to meet the needs of those God puts in their paths.

NOTE James says that those riches will rot, be devoured and your precious things will rust, because you have stored up for yourselves your treasures. What good is it if a man gains the whole world and loses his soul?

Secondly, the rich tend to treat poorly those who are not rich. James points out that those who work for the rich will someday testify as to how they were treated. To be skimpy in what is paid, to withhold pay over something petty, to demand something for so very little; it's like committing a fraud against these people. James says, "You have fattened your hearts in the day of slaughter." You have lifted your lifestyle to the greatest luxury on the backs of people you have treated poorly or wrongfully.

This reminds me of the well-known text in I Timothy 6:10: For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

2-Why pray (trust in God) when you can worry with impatience? 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. James urges those who are impatiently stewing in their worries to pay attention to how life works. Check out the farmer. The farmer waits! The Lord will come through on your behalf and you must wait.

3-Why pray (trust in God) when you can complain against one another? 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. 10 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. Impatience and worry will inevitably produce a constant flow of complaining. NOTE the examples: 1. Of the prophets who endured. 2. Of Job's endurance with a great outcome. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy and NOTE Jesus, the Judge, is standing right at your door listening to all of your complaints and stewing.

4-Why pray (trust in God) when you can make deals (swear oaths) that trick people into something you want? 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.

YOU MUST TURN TO PRAYER-trusting the Lord in the midst of your troubles. 13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises [Even if you are not in trouble and are cheerful, still turn to prayer and sing praises.]. 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.

NOTE the connection between sickness and confessing your sins. There is a psycho-spiritual-physical dynamic within each of us. Sins will affect your psyche and your physical health as well. So, make it a habit of confessing your sins (being open about your life) to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed. NOW HOW MIGHT THIS HAPPEN? By paying attention to the 3 habits of walking with Jesus, walking with others and waiting for Jesus to lead out. These habits present the perfect opportunity for you to be open and honest with someone you trust.

NOTE "the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" statement. It is not the techniques of prayer (how or when you pray), but the emphasis is upon who is praying-a righteous man. When you are walking with Jesus and doing what He would do-walking, loving and thinking like Jesus, you are a righteous man/woman who has the ear and heart of Jesus in all you think and do and ask. So, pray!