This is the final lesson on James. This has been an exciting and challenging study for all of us. We have constantly been challenged to examine ourselves and the way we live on a daily basis. Living faith is evident, just like dead faith is evident.
- Living faith vs. Dead faith
- Living faith vs. Dead faith part II
- Trials and Temptations; what’s the difference?
- Genuine faith in action
- Two spiritual births; death and life
- Living faith in action
- Living faith revealed
- Living faith produces good works
- Living faith tames the tongue with wisdom from above
- Teach heavenly wisdom
- Living faith resolves conflict
- James 4, worldliness, enmity, and judging
- James 4, living faith and how you invest your time
This lesson turns the page in James to chapter 5. I love this chapter because it has much to teach the modern church. This chapter can be divided up into 5 paragraphs.
I. Don’t envy the wicked people’s prosperity
Many times, we look at people who are not walking with God and, when we see their prosperity, we are tempted to get envious of all that they have. God calls us to store up treasures in heaven by investing in the lives of the people around us. As you are storing up treasures in heaven, you do not always see the results in the here and now. On the other hand, if you are not working to store up treasures in heaven, then you will store up treasures here on the earth. When you see this happening, do not envy them. If God has blessed people with riches and they invest those riches in the kingdom of heaven then rejoice with them and for them. On the other hand, if they have acquired riches in a ungodly way, pity them because God’s judgment is coming upon them both in the here and now, and also in the afterlife. Here is why you should not envy them.
- their riches are going to rot (2)
- their expensive garments are going to ruin
- their gold and silver will rust (3)
- they have invested their treasures on earth
- they have hired workers and not paid them (4)
- they have used their riches to live luxuriously (5)
- they live in wanton (extravagant) pleasure
- they have condemned and put to death the righteous (6)
God is not against rich people. This text does not teach that God is against rich people. Look at the way that they attained their riches. Look what they were doing with their riches. This is what is upsetting to God. Patiently await the coming of the Lord by not being envious of those who are storing up treasures on this earth.
II. Examples of patience: Farmers, Prophets, and Job
Patiently awaiting the coming of the Lord does not mean being idle. It means working hard like a farmer and enduring persecution like the prophets, and being patient in the midst of calamity, the way that Job was. The farmer works hard and he knows that all of his hard work will pay off when the harvest comes. He has to wait patiently for the rain and the harvest but that waiting is an active form of waiting. As we await the coming of the Lord actively, we need to be intentional about strengthening each others’ hearts. We know that the coming of the Lord is near. We need to encourage each other to work hard until the coming of the Lord. This is what living faith does. Do not complain about what you are going through. Do not complain about having to wait for the coming of the Lord. Do not condemn each other as you await. Focus on the calling that you have. The prophets are an example in patiently awaiting the coming of the Lord. They were busily sharing God’s message with His people. As a result of teaching God’s Word, the prophets were persecuted. They endured that persecution because they were storing up their treasures in heaven. In order to await the coming of the Lord patiently, we need to be busy teaching the Word of the Lord to others. The next example that we encounter is the example of Job. Job was a righteous man who suffered through some difficult circumstances in life. He endured and was able to experience the compassion of the Lord and the mercy of the Lord. As we suffer for preaching the Gospel, we get to experience God’s compassion in the midst of suffering. We get to experience God’s mercy in a tangible way.
III. Keep your word
In the midst of waiting patiently, be a person of your word, even when no one else is. If your yes is always yes and your no is always no, then there is no need to swear. When you are not a person of your word then you always have to swear to get people to believe you. If we are followers of Christ, we are like Him. He always keeps His Word. Living faith will prompt us to be people of our word as our Lord is.
In the midst of suffering for the Gospel, we need to turn to the Lord in prayer and trust Him, becoming totally dependent upon Him. If we are suffering because of sickness, we need to call our spiritual leaders to help us. The first thing that must take place is confession of sin, to make sure the sickness is not a result of sin. Upon confessing our sins and receiving forgiveness, we need to take medicine. That is what anointing with oil meant. As we pray, we need to pray for each other. We have Elijah as an example of prayer. Elijah knew how to pray and prayed effective prayers because he knew the Word of God. Elijah prayed the Word of God, the will of God and this is the key to effective prayer. As we patiently await the coming of the Lord, we need to be great students of the Bible so that we can know how to pray and what to pray for on a daily basis.
V. Turn back a wayward brother
As we patiently await the coming of the Lord, we need to watch out for one another. Because of the difficult circumstances, some of the brothers may be tempted to give up and invest treasures here on the earth. When you see this happening, you need to confront them, in love, with the Word of God, with the purpose of winning them over and turning them back. If and when you do this, you save that brother from tragedy. This return of the brother will stop a multitude of sins from occurring because the brother gets back on the right track.
What about you, my dear friend, are you patiently awaiting the coming of the Lord? Do you realize that this waiting is very active? Are you storing up treasures in heaven while you wait? Are you working hard like the farmer, suffering for the Gospel as the prophets did, and enduring hardship as Job did? Are you a person of your word? Do you pray like Elijah? Are you a student of the Word so that you can pray effective prayers? Are you seeking to help your brothers stay the course and keep the faith until the end? May the Lord help us choose to invest in the kingdom as we patiently await the coming of the Lord.