As we reach the end of James’s letter in chapter 5, he returns to three topics that he touched on earlier – Riches (Profit), Patience (perseverance) and Prayer.
Verses 1 to 5 contain a very severe warning to those who are building up riches. Commentators on this passage say that this is aimed at the corrupt non believers who were getting rich by exploiting their workers, failing to pay wages and dragging innocent people through the courts.
He touched on this in chapter 2 where he reminded the believers not to give special treatment to a person based on their outward appearance reminding them that it was the rich that were persecuting them. They were falsely accusing them and they had the money to pursue their accusations through the courts.
They were boasting of their riches and their money making plans (chapter 4 v 13 – 15) yet they were completely ignorant of their coming judgement.
Their wealth was going rusty because they had not paid their workers, but God sees this and will judge accordingly. James compares them to animals being fattened up ready for the slaughter, oblivious to their impending fate.
Although these verses appear to be a warning to non believers, we should still take heed and ensure that we conduct out own businesses in a Godly way and remember that we are dependent on His grace and mercy.
Be patient, then, my brothers and sisters, until the Lord comes (v7)
Keep your hopes high for the day of the Lords coming is near (v8)
James returns again to encouraging the reader to continue in faith, to patiently wait for the promises of God to be fulfilled as in chapter 2.
Job did not always show the correct patience (v 11) but he persevered, and saw God provide for him in the end and the fulfillment of His word.
We are to do this without complaining against each other (see chapter 3 on controlling the tongue) Job was rebuked by God for complaining about his circumstances but I wonder how much of that came about because of the negativity of his “friends”. When Job humbly submitted to God, God restored him.
Are any of you in trouble? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you ill? You should send for the church elders, who will pray for them and rub olive oil on them in the name of the Lord (v 13-14)
As I write this today there is a lot of publicity surrounding a short video released by the Church of England encouraging people to:
It’s simple message is to just start, many people are familiar with what we call “The Lord’s Prayer” which is the model Jesus taught when the disciples asked him “How to pray”
James demonstrates here that prayer applies to all situations, if you have a need -ask God, if you have reason to be happy, give thanks, if you are unable to pray for yourself, then ask for someone to pray for you.
You may be in a situation where your faith is week, or you don’t know how to pray but James shows here that prayer works.
He shows in verse 17 and 18 that Elijah was just like us, but his prayers were answered by God – he believed
But when you pray, you must believe and not doubt at all. Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is driven and blown about by the wind (James 1 v 5)
By calling on others to pray when our own faith is weak, we can prevent ourselves from being “tossed about” and our faith can be strengthened.
A final reminder is to care for one another, to help each other to prevent anyone “wandering off”