Nov 9 — James 5

James 5:1-6 — Warning to the Rich
James 5:7-20 — Patience in Suffering, The Prayer of Faith

Thoughts about serving others

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

One Reply to “Nov 9 — James 5”

  1. Boom! James, chapter 5, starts out with a boom! This reminds me of the good ‘ol southern baptist preachers main them, “weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you…you have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence” (cf James 5:1-5). When I first read this, the words “rich people” (5:1) caught my attention. I’ve recently read Andy Stanley’s book, “How to Be Rich” and felt a tinge of conviction. James is writing to unbelievers, the unrepentant who are hearing this message, but I wonder how many of us have accumulated wealth and turned a blind eye to the needs of others. The subtitle for the Stanley book is, “It’s Not What You Have. It’s What You Do With What You Have.” And that is my prayer when I read words that confront our outrageous, extravagant lifestyle. Two days ago my wife asked me to go through my closet and pick out clothes I really don’t wear anymore. You see, we are rich, we have more clothes than we can wear. Clothes for this occasion and that event. Dark and lights. Long and short sleeved. We’re rich. Thanks to her prompting, someone in the Salvation Army’s system with have more options for clothing and I have more room in my closet! Lord help me to know what to do with what you have given me, help me to be a good steward and excellent example for others to follow!

    The last section in chapter 5 (vv 13-20) provides some astounding words on the power of prayer. James reminds us of Elijah’s prayer, “he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years” (James 5:17), referring to 1 Kings 17 & 18. “Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops” (James 5:18). James doesn’t need to explain the story of Elijah to those who are reading his letter. They know the story well and get the connection between prayer, faith, rain and “patiently waiting” (James 5:7-8) for the Lord’s coming.

    The troubling part of this section appears in 5:14-15, “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.” So…there shouldn’t be any sick Christians, right? True, if we translate the word ‘sick’ to mean one who is sick in spirit, not physically ill. Sick, astheneō, the Greek word with several meanings, one of which probably refers to being weak in faith rather than physically ill. When I first read this, I looked at dozens of Bible versions, finally finding Young’s translation, “and the prayer of the faith shall save the distressed one.” In context, and by observation, I have to believe this was the intended representation of the English word ‘sick,’ but it is troubling and worthy of prayer and study. The first time ‘sick’ is used in v15 means, weak in faith [astheneō]?” The second form of ‘sick’ could be translated, “faith will make the discouraged [kamnō] well.” They will be healed, or restored from a state of sin and condemnation. Read this page for more info: Link. Lord, help me to understand your Word even more and help me to minister to those who are not committed to you, those who would read these words and find them a stumbling block to coming to Christ.

    I’d be very interested to hear other thoughts on the 5:14-16. 🙂

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