This is our last portion in James. James 5:9-20
The only way we are going to live a G-d-pleasing life is if we understand and think according to the truth. Right thinking produces right behaviour.
v9: “Do not…” – This is a commandment (ie a law)
· Grumbling implies wrong feelings of contempt, animosity etc. Although we need to live in a way that does not compromise truth we need to have compassion and mercy for those who do not yet behave appropriately in regard to truth. We are not called to accept unrighteous behaviour, but we can speak to one another in love with the overall purpose to bring a person (also a ‘brethren’ – a true believer) to repentance (right behaviour).
· ‘Lest you be condemned’ – the measure we use against others will be the same measure that we are going to measured with (Matt 7:2)
· This term for ‘door’ implies a threshold. A door takes us from one location to another (it brings about a change)
v10: The prophets suffered because they spoke in the name (character) of the L-rd (Yeshua came to suffer – Isaiah 53:3). As disciples of Yeshua – speaking in His name, living out the prophetic call that G-d has for our lives – we are not exempt from suffering.
· An example: To be an example is usually related to one’s behaviour or conduct.
· Suffering and patience – As believers in this world (like the prophets of old) we are not exempt from suffering. We need to be spiritually prepared to endure (be patient) through the suffering that we have been guaranteed (Roms 12:12).
v11: ‘Indeed’ – same word as “behold’. This means that what follows is important, so we need to pay attention to it.
· ‘Count them blessed’ – when we suffer we should consider ourselves blessed as we are learning (being taught) the vital “skill” of endurance.
· Job suffered greatly, but at the end we read that the L-rd restored everything and more (a double portion) back to Job.
· “VERY compassionate” – A feeling that one gets in the pit of their stomach toward another.
· The feeling of compassion leads to the action of mercy. The L-rd feels compassionate toward us. This causes Him to act mercifully toward us. This behaviour of Christ is what James is encouraging us as believers to extend to other believers – compassion and mercy.
v12: ‘Above all” – These words let us know that what we are about to read is of very high significance/importance.
· Swear – in this context it means to state something in the form of a promise or “oath”/vow (Matt 5:33-37). Often the reason why people take oaths is because their own words are not believed. We need to have the reputation/character of being people who speak words which are believed – without the need of having to call on higher powers to certify our words. If we have to swear an oath it shows we don’t have credibility or a good reputation with others.
· “Fall into judgement” – when we take oaths it is a short step from there to finding ourselves falling into judgment (because of our bad reputation or lack of credibility with others)
v13: Let him pray: When we encounter things that are difficult, and there is a need to endure or persevere, our response should be to pray.
· If our lives are full of joy a response is also required of us – that of singing praises to G-d (the psalms are a perfect example of how to praise).
v14: This is a commandment. It is the sick person’s responsibility to call the elders when they are sick – not to sit back and wait for them to come and pray, and pick up offence if they don’t.
· Anoint with oil in the name of the L-rd: This is not a formula that we do in order to have some kind of effect. An elder needs to confirm that the sick person wants to be healed for the purpose of living and demonstrating the character of the L-rd. The sick person’s perspective needs to be one of not just wanting to be healed because they don’t want to suffer anymore, but it needs to be an attitude of wanting to be restored to health so that they have the ability to do G-d’s will, to live according to His character.
v15: “The prayer of faith” – Genuine faith is rooted in truth.
· The word ‘save’, as used here, is not a word for salvation in the spiritual sense. It is a word of recovery/healing.
· “Raise him up” – The sick person is going to have a Kingdom experience – healing takes place. Being raised up has last day implications (1 Cor 15:34-49)
· The spiritual condition of a man is far more important than his natural condition (“if he has committed sins he will be forgiven”)
v16: Just like sickness, sin needs to be dealt with. In the same way we don’t ignore sickness we must not ignore sin. Some sickness (not all sickness) can be an outcome of sin in our lives. Sin can impact our physical condition. Disease, as part of the natural process (harmful pathogens etc), came into the human race because of sin. But ungodly and unrighteous behaviour can also lead to sickness.
v17: James gives us an example of the power of a righteous man’s prayer.
· ‘A nature like ours’ – he had the same desires and passions that we do.
· He prayed earnestly – Elijah was concerned with the will of G-d and his prayer was motivated in light of G-d’s will.
· 3.5yrs….all of us should be familiar with this important number by now. 42 months, 1260 days, a time times and half a time. An absence of rain = an absence of G-d’s blessing. We know that the antichrist empire is going to function for this same period of time at the end (Dan 12:7). G-d is going to seem absent in this situation. It is a time which will be marked by suffering and oppression – a time of enduring (Matt 24:13) G-d, however, has set a limit on this awful and evil period of time!
v18: The good news is that the suffering comes to an end!! Rain is synonymous with blessing.
v19: In our congregation there are those who are “among us” who are not truly saved, they are not true believers (as v20 bears out).
· ‘Wander from the truth’ – they are deceived and do not believe the truth.
· “turns him back’ – ie brings him to repentance.
v20: ‘Save a soul from death’ – Speaking about spiritual death.
· “Cover” speaks about the power of the blood of Yeshua. His blood doesn’t just atone for our sins, but it completely wipes all of them away.
· ‘A multitude of sins’ – James is talking about all of the sin in this person’s life. He is not talking about a believer who has fallen into deception and therefore is not living properly.
Note: We should constantly be looking for opportunities to speak out to those who have been deceived, who have moved away from the things of G-d. As we grow in the character of G-d it is going to cause us to become more compassionate toward others and we are going to behave in a more merciful way. Maturity is when we stop thinking about how this or that affects ourselves, but we begin to think about others and how we can “turn a sinner from the error of his ways” in order to bring them to salvation.