I want to break down chapter 5 into what I am calling the 4 Ps! Through all 5 chapters we see some reoccurring themes. PLEASE get into this book. If you haven’t read all five chapters yet, please dig into it. One of our families read it every day for a month.
We are going to call these first 6 verses the:
The Predicament of PROSPERITY
Everyone in the room wants to be prosperous. However, the Bible Tells us that prosperity puts us in a difficult, perplexing, or dangerous situation. A predicament.
James 5:1 Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. 2 Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This corroded treasure you have hoarded will testify against you on the day of judgment.
This is beginning like chapter 4! Remember him talking about running a race to satisfy desires in your inner most being?
In fact, here in Ch.5 he is talking about when you are running the race and you catch the fake rabbit. Prosperity is not all that it is cracked up to be.
Relying on money and success to bring you peace is the wrong idea.
4 For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the lord of Heaven’s Armies. 5 You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and killed innocent people, who do not resist you.
That doesn’t sound like you. Surely, he isn’t talking to you. You aren’t wealthy. You don’t participate in this… hhhhhhmmmmmm.
When I read verses 1-6, I think about America. All Americans.
Economists say that in the world there is about 153 trillion dollars. 63 of that trillion is in the US where 4.4% of the world population lives. The Average household income in America is $50,000.The Average household income for the world is $18,000. The median income is $1225. (for the math nerds out there)
The book of James is filled with warnings for the believer. It is so east to be ENTICED. SWAYED. DECIEVED. By this system and worldly thinking. BEWARD OF THE PROSPERITY PREDICAMENT! We can be intoxicated by possessions and money. We often allow the pleasures of this life and the pursuit of success to warp our true perception of God’s Kingdom. The Love of Money is the root of all evil.
In verses 7-11, James gives us the Plea for Patience:
The Plea for PATIENCE
7 Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. 8 You, too, must be patient.
Wait…patiently! While you wait, do these two things:
Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. Basically, he is talking about the spirit of Eeyore! Down in the dumps.
“No one likes me. Everything is wrong. I have been treated wrong. Wah wah wah.” My son would say, “Someone call the wahhhmbulance”
The Believer in Jesus doesn’t have to be bound by the circumstances being handed to them! James is giving us a posture. A way to stand. A way to present our self. Patient. Courageous. Good attitude.
Galatians 5 says that the Holy Spirit of God will give us patience, gentleness, and self control! Bring it on, God! I want to live that type of lifestyle. When people see me, I want them to see someone that is patient. Trusting God. Not grumbly. Live a Life of Integrity. Mean what you say and say what you mean.
12 But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned.
In verses 13-18, James gives us:
The Power of PRAYER
13 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. 16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. 17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.
In verses 19-20, James is giving us:
The Plight of PEOPLE
Or The Part you Play
19 My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, 20 you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.
You are going to play a part in the situation or condition of someone else’s heart.
You make a difference in someone’s life when you show them love.
You can adjust someone’s course and trajectory by the way you share your story with them.
Caring for others. Forgiving those who are different from you.
Instead of criticizing and condemning, James is calling us to step INTO the situation and reach out a hand. Open up your ears and arms. Open up your prosperous checkbook.
Today, we jump into chapter 2 of James. Chapter 2 teaches us 2 core principles:
Christians Choose PEACE over of PREJUDICE
We choose accessibility over partiality! We OPEN doors…first.
James 2:1 My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? 2 For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes.
OR they have a different style. They have tattoos, all kinds of piercings. They are a different race. They are a different age. They vote different from you. They come from a different background. They like the Patriots or the Giants.
3 If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, 4 doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?
Discrimination– to make a distinction in favor of or against a person or thing on the basis of the group, class, or category to which the person or thing belongs rather than according to actual merit;
8 Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 9 But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law. 10 For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. 11 For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law. 12 So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free.
What is the Law that Sets you FREE? Since your faith in Jesus Christ sets you free from your sin and deserved punishment, you are then freed from hatred and self-love and are able to love your neighbors as ourselves.
When this all started in the first century, Christianity grew and developed in confrontation, with an environment that breathed hostility to its doctrines and practices.
The main reason that Christianity survived being fed to the lions was because they acutally choose peace over prejudice.
The lives of early Christians showed that accusations against them were lies.
1 Peter 2:15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.
The early believers actually fed the needy, accepted outcasts, buried the poor, cared for orphans and the aged, encouraged prisoners and victims of disasters, and showered compassion on the persecuted.
Their lives proved that Christianity produced a superior character. This is still the best proof of the reality of our faith.
I’m praying that PromiseLand is filled with people that are living out a declaration of the Gospel of Jesus. Sure we know how to describe the good news of Jesus from a theological standpoint (it’s always good to know good doctrine). BUT more than that, May God enable us today to make a bold demonstration of our mercy to others!
Christians Do Good.
James 2:14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
VERY IMPORTANT: This is NOT talking about not doing bad things (sinning). It is talking about DOING good things.
James is not saying in this particular passage that your “work” is your ability to not sin. He is saying that your works are the good deeds that you perform.
As we go through this passage, you will see two distinctive words: shown and counted. Your faith counts you righteous. Your actions show your faith.
On one hand, If we were God, then we wouldn’t need works to show or display our faith. God sees the heart and knows all things. We can’t see inside someone, so the only way we know if someone’s faith is legit, is to see some outward evidence in their life.
On the other hand, it is impossible for strong, effective faith to be lazy or selfish. You can’t separate faith and good works. Christians do Good.
18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” 21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. 24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. 26 Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.
Some translations say spirit instead of breath. The original word, pneuma means actually spirit breath. So it is all intertwined of sorts. God breathed life into the corpse of Adam in creation giving him a spirit breath. As your body, needs a spirit, so does your faith need works.
Look at the natural parallel as well: A healthy body has involuntarily muscles in the respiratory system that bring air in and out without you even knowing it. It is part of a healthy body.
Good works are the oxygen that a healthy faith body will bring in and out of it’s existence.
When Faith is inactive, it is entombed in a creed affirmed by the intellect. This has no more usefulness than a body with no heartbeat or breath – Holmann Commentary