Hi to my faithful followers and those joining my blog for the first time! This is the final in my series on the Book of James. I didn’t intend for it to stretch over such a long period but life happens. Thanks be to God for His patience with our weaknesses.
While doing my initial review of chapter 5, it seemed so fragmented. My first impression was that James must have been running out of time and wanted to be sure he touched on all the remaining issues that were of concern to him before time ran out. In my second round of reading, I recognized that in verses 1 – 6 James was continuing from the end of chapter 4 with his warning about pride and arrogance. I had to remind myself that this letter was being addressed to the early Christian churches and are a warning to us that many of the same issues relate to the Body of Christ today. There is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9b). What pertained to the early church pertains to the church today.
Let us always remember that it is the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil and not money itself (1 Tim. 6:10). Timothy goes on to say that this love of mammon caused some believers to stray from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. Hence, the common Jamaican saying “you get rich and switch”. We are again reminded by James in the beginning of chapter 5 that money in the hands of those whose hearts are not fully surrendered to God can result in pride and arrogance. Some of the symptoms and signs of this include oppression of the poor and those who are in the hire of the rich. James clearly spells out in dramatic imagery how Father God views such actions and what the ultimate end of such persons will be!! With riches comes responsibility to use those riches wisely and to remember from whence they came. Do not be too quick to want to be rich as it can lead to great temptation and ultimately destruction if your heart is not properly established to deal with such power.
In the rest of chapter 5, James outlined to believers in the early church some of the critical truths for living a victorious Christian life. I encourage us to be instructed likewise.
- Exercise patience with perseverance knowing that your latter end is in God’s hands.
- See suffering for Christ as an honour, a privilege. Christ is no man’s debtor and you will truly receive your reward.
- Always remember to judge yourself first and not be quick to judge others, especially fellow believers.
- Continually assess the condition of your own heart and keep it pure as the Lord’s return will be unannounced and you want to always be ready.
- Live a life of integrity so you have no need to swear an oath to convince others of your honesty and sincerity, no matter the situation.
- Have a heart of compassion for the suffering and be willing to pray with and for them.
- Encourage those who are joyful to give gratitude to God and give thanks to Him in praise.
- Access the ministry of those God has placed in authority over you, particularly when you are sick. He has given them special power and authority for this purpose. Don’t try to be a lone ranger. That’s why you have been placed in a church family.
- Build up relationships with fellow believers such that there are those to whom you can confess your secret faults and be healed. Do not keep it to yourself because that is how the enemy keeps you in bondage to shame and guilt. There is a connection between unconfessed sin and sickness. Keep short accounts and remain healthy.
- Be your brothers’ keeper. Do not waver in praying for one another. Do not discount the power of a righteous believer’s prayers.
- Keep an eye out for those who may be straying from the truth. See it as your responsibility to turn them back to the truth. They are part of you so do not turn your back on them.
Chapter 5 brings home so powerfully God’s desire for believers to be dependent on each other. This is His love being manifested for all to see. Jesus says the following to His disciples in John 13:34-35 and to us His disciples today,
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35, NKJV)
Note, it was not a suggestion it was a commandment. Why was Jesus so adamant about this show of love among His believers? Firstly, because this is the truest representation of His character. Secondly, because He knew that love would be the single most powerful testimony of belief in Christ that would draw others to Him. Love is indeed the principle thing!! (1 Cor. 13:13).