James Chapter 5
Here we have to be careful not to add to or take away from what is written and what is meant here. These verses concerning the rich are intended to be a warning against the rich that are guilty of the sins mentioned in the previous verses. If a rich man loves God, helps the needy and has not done these things, I don't believe these warnings apply to him just because he may be rich.
Jesus said that it is hard for a rich man that trusts in his riches to be saved. He also said that with God all things are possible. The rich and the poor alike must all come one way to be saved and have eternal life and that is through the blood of Jesus Christ. Repentance and receiving Christ is the way of salvation for all.
For those who trust in riches and use them to oppress the poor, or take away what little they have and defraud them of their wages will face a severe judgment from the Lord.
These are warnings against rich men of power who kill, destroy and cheat. They use their wealth to exercise power over others. They do not pay fair wages. God sees these things. They are in reality poor. A poor man who is content and thankful for what little he has and is serving Jesus Christ with all his heart and soul is really the rich one. True riches come by exercising faith in Jesus Christ.
I will add here that we are never to envy the rich, work to bring them down, or steal from them to give to the poor. Giving should be done from the heart. Our government tries to rob the rich to give to the poor but that is not right either. Biblical giving is not forced. It is giving from our willing hearts.
Remember these verses show us the judgment of God on these that are rich and guilty of abusing the poor, it does not tell us to exercise that judgment. God will bring judgment. Vengeance is His, not ours. We should be glad it is that way. If we exercise vengeance we would most likely misjudge, accuse the wrong ones and not always punish the guilty. God who is perfect and can see into the hearts of all of us is the only one who can fairly judge. We have to have civil laws, trials, courts etc., but in matters outside secular law we have to let the judgment be the Lord's.
Here is a comfort for those who are trusting in the Lord. This is hard for today's Christians who are used to instant answers to every problem. We find it hard to wait for anything. We want it now. I'm not being critical here because I have trouble with this sometimes too. We have trouble waiting for God and try to do things ourselves. If we remember to pray for adversaries, have our hope bound up in God and not in the things of this life, then we can have a life of contentment.
If we walk in the Spirit and not the flesh, we can live a victorious fruitful Christian life.
Be patient, let your heart be safe in the Lord's hands, do not hold grudges. We are not, I repeat, to envy the rich or to hold a grudge against those we think may have done us wrong.
This is one reason I do not like election season. I hate to turn on the TV and hear the candidates attacking one another like they do. I wish they would all discuss issues that they stand for. This constant tearing down and criticizing is depressing. I refuse to listen to any of them. There is no reason for it. Political speeches should be on the issues and not slandering their opponents. Think of what the children of the politicians must feel when they hear their dads or moms being pictured as crooks, deceivers, and liars. There is no excuse for that kind of slander.
The Old Testament prophets are a good example to follow. Lets look at them for a moment. The words I spoke in the above paragraphs should not be taken to mean that we don't speak out against wrongdoing and sin. The prophets did speak. If they had a prophetic warning against sin, they spoke, if they had a prophetic warning to a king, they went straight to the king.
They did not murmur and complain because of their own sufferings but their message was against sin. This should be are main focus. To get people to repent of sin and come to Christ who gave himself for their sin. Our focus should not be on how much money we make, how many benefits we have and the things of this life only. Our focus should be on: Are we ready for the return of the Lord? Are we saved? Are our children saved? Is our neighbor saved? Is our boss saved? Is the union leader right with God? Is the President of the United States saved? Is he ready for the coming of the Lord? This should be our focus.
The prophets were willing to endure criticism, suffering and hardships to bring the message from God. They cared more for obeying God and getting out His word than for the praise of men. They are the ones that truly showed love, not the get along men pleasers. Love is not "live and let live". Love is correction, love is pointing out the right way, love is getting people saved and right with God.
Love is serving the Lord in good times or in bad, in sickness and in health, in poverty and in riches. Faithfulness should be when everything is going great and when troubles multiply. One thing Job said that sticks with me, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him." Job 13:15
Yes and no should be our answers. Swearing on objects should not be necessary. We should automatically tell the truth without having to make oaths. Lying should be put away from us.
To be afflicted is to have hardships of some kind, to be troubled or be going through a trial. The cure for this is to pray.
If we are merry and going through a time of rejoicing, we are to sing psalms and praise God. Reading the book of Psalms we learn how to praise and worship.
Are we sick? We are to call for the elders of the church and let them pray over us, anointing us with oil in the name of the Lord.
Get verse 15 down in the depth of our souls so that our faith is exercised. The prayer of faith saves the sick not the prayer of doubt. A prayer of faith is the key. The Lord shall raise him or her up. Not only is the receiver healed but forgiven of sins.
Another thing that brings healing is to confess faults and pray for one another. A prayer of the righteous avails much. A lot of people are afraid to do this because they are afraid people will gossip and use this to judge them.
Confessing faults to one another is lacking because we are not yet perfect in love. This does not mean we confess sins to someone in order to be forgiven. We confess sins only to God for forgiveness and cleansing. However, a strong healthy congregation of believers who love one another can confess faults to one another for the purpose of encouraging and uplifting others who go through the same things. It brings healing actually and helps us not to appear superior or "holier than thou."
For instance one person may have a problem with their temper. Another one might confess that he also has that problem and share some of the solutions he did to overcome it. It is easier to pray with someone who has a weakness that we also have had than to try to pray for someone that has a problem we can not identify with in any way.
I can pray for an alcoholic to be delivered for instance but I would not be able to understand why the person allowed alcohol to get him into trouble in the first place. A former alcoholic could identify with the person much better and be able to fervently pray for him or her.
James points out that Elias was a man subject to the same passions and feelings as we are and he prayed earnestly that the rain would stop as a sign to the unbelievers he was dealing with at the time. It did not rain for 3 1/2 years. I believe James was saying, "Elias was a normal person." He was not anyone that we could not be if we walked in faith and trusted God.
Jesus said at one time according to your faith be it unto you. It seems to me that this looks like we receive what we believe we are going to receive. Some times it is easier to believe for someone else to be healed than ourselves. We always tend to think that we don't deserve healing for some reason. Well we probably don't but then according to the above verses, sins are forgiven at the same time as healing comes.
Forgiveness wipes out all past sins. If the sins are wiped out then we become worthy. Jesus is worthy and without sin. If His righteousness replaces our righteousness (which we don't have), then we are saved. He makes us worthy to receive healing, the Holy Spirit, the kingdom of heaven etc. Without Him none of us are worthy.
Elijah prayed again and the heaven gave rain and the earth brought forth fruit. As another sign to the unbelievers, the prophet prayed again for rain to come and it did come.
This is beautiful. Reading these verses really explains a lot. This should put to silence those that throw the "Judge not that ye be not judged," scriptures to excuse their sins. Those words of Jesus about judging are good but should not be taken out of context. That does not mean that we avoid correcting sins and teaching godliness. If it meant what a lot of people says it does, then we could not correct even our own children.
Jesus did not mean for us to "Live and let live." For then many people would be lost for eternity. The gospel must be preached to the entire world. Part of the gospel is to repent. To get people to repent they have to know that they have sinned. When we see a brother or sister sin, we must try to restore. Look at verse 20. This is true love dear people. To convert the sinner or the wayward believer back on the right path is to save a soul from eternal death. This is not unrighteous judging.
Judging is trying to guess people's motives and false accusing them similar to what the Pharisees did to Jesus constantly. Judging is nitpicking like the Pharisees did when the disciples were picking corn to eat on the Sabbath day. Another example of judging is when they found fault with Jesus for healing on the Sabbath day. That is nitpicking and judging unrighteous judgments.
Making false assumptions, backbiting, gossiping, and purposely looking for faults in order to accuse is the type of judging that is wrong. If we search deep down into our hearts, we will know the difference between godly correction and judgmental nitpicking. There is a big difference.
Since I covered the topic of physical healing above, and it is for today and not just the days of the apostles, there are other places in the bible that deal with why some prayers are not answered and some are not healed.
It could be sin that they have no intention of repenting of, bad feelings or unforgiveness toward someone, lack of faith, or it is time to go home to be with the Lord.
There are other reasons but this doesn't mean we don't pray with faith and expect healing because Jesus Himself said to lay hands on the sick and they shall recover. Studying the word constantly on this subject may help answer the reason why sometimes our healing prayers go un answered.
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