Tuesday, March 18, 2014

James 5: True Wealth

As James brings his letter to a close, his final messages concern what to pursue in this life, and what not to bother chasing after.

In language that could come straight out of "Occupy Wall Street" and all the talk of the "1%," James has some tough words for the rich.  Their trust has been wrongly placed in material goods that will fail.  Hoarding wealth, oppressing the poor, and living lives of self-indulgence are not acceptable practices for the Christian!

Instead, James tells us to focus on building up patience and perseverance in our character.  He points to the example of a faithful farmer as one who waits patiently for the Lord.  James also lifts up the prophets and Job as those who endured suffering and were rewarded by the Lord, full of compassion and mercy.

James also emphasizes the life of prayer.  Whether in trouble or in delight, we should pray.  When sick, prayers can bring healing, because the prayer of a righteous man makes a difference.  Returning to the prophets, James cites Elijah as a man of powerful faith and prayer.

Along with some final thoughts about swearing and winning back wandering brothers, the last chapter of James is much like the rest of his book: full of good, solid, practical advice about living the Christian life, no matter what century you may be in.


  1. I have questions about the prayer of a righteous person availing much.
    There are times when I sure don't feel righteous, and wonder if my prayers make any difference at all. It makes me wonder if God would be more willing to answer my prayers positively if I was somehow more righteous. But then I think about the righteousness that I am given in Christ. That I stand holy and blameless before the Father as a result of what the Son has done. I sure hope it is this type of righteousness that is addressed in this chapter.

    1. I definitely hear what you're saying. I think the emphasis in the context of this scripture is on the power of the prayer, rather than on the righteousness of the pray-er. I believe that, in a Christian's relationship with Christ, we are reckoned righteous through His righteousness, so our prayers would qualify...unless we are living in such a way that our rebellion and sin make us decidedly unrighteous!

    2. I guess it goes along the lines of what I heard about recently of sin the noun and sin the verb. We may have sin the verb in our lives, but with Christ we are made righteous in God's sight. But if sin the noun has become our master, well then that's a different story.