As we embark upon this final chapter in James, I can’t help but look back over these last few weeks and marvel over all the things that I personally learned throughout this study:
James Chapter 1: Living What We Say We Believe: not just talking the talk but walking the walk.
James Chapter 2: Faith and Works: Applying our faith to our daily lives.
James Chapter 3: Two Kinds of Wisdom: Learning to discern between worldly and Godly wisdom
James Chapter 4: Our Will vs. God’s Will: Understanding that God has a master plan over our lives
The Book of James has opened my eyes and my heart to so many important Biblical and life messages, and I hope that you have learned as much as I have throughout the course of these five chapters.
I have to be honest in saying that I think this is the first time during a Bible Study that I have truly been able to take what I have learned and understand it in a way that’s helped me apply it to my life (woot! Chapter 2, coming in clutch!)
The Book of James is an honest letter that asks us some pretty tough questions and makes us take a step back and look at our lives, our own faith, and our actions. But we’re not quite finished yet. Chapter five comes with one more strong message brought to us in three very distinct parts: that there is patience in our suffering. It’s not easy to be a Christian – it’s kind of like saying that if it were easy, everyone would be doing it, right? (Although, in this case, I wish everyone would become a Christian).
As Christians, at some point we will be faced with our own trials and tribulations. But if we can stand patient and firmly rooted in our faith, then we will be rewarded eternally with far greater riches than anything here on earth could ever tempt us with or mimic.
Book of James Bible Study | The Prayer of Faith
Warning to Rich Oppressors
This section of James Chapter 5 starts out with a warning to certain selfish rich landowners who were oppressing Christians less fortunate than them while they suffered in poverty. James tells them to start weeping now in anticipation of what will come.
While this letter was very specifically addressing a group of people, it’s still a lesson we all can learn from today.
He’s telling them that God has heard the cries of the poor. That their tears and pleas have reached His ears, and that God will not stand for their suffering while the greedy have spent their days in luxury and self-indulgence.
I’ve read a lot of reviews of this chapter and this book as a whole as I prepared myself to stand before all of you on the internet and attempt to spread this gospel. One common theme or even perhaps a misconception, if I’m understanding the interpretation correctly enough to call it what I believe to be a misconception (had to be careful with my words there), is that people think that James didn’t like the rich.
That this chapter, or this book, is a message that it’s not okay to be wealthy.
I don’t necessarily agree with that thought. I don’t think it’s about what you have, but more how you use those gifts.
Do you spend your days flaunting what your mama gave you, or are you looking for opportunities to share your wealth? To strive to give more than you receive?
I have this theory.. I believe that the more of ourselves and our possessions we give, the more our Lord will gift us in return. But it all boils down to what’s in our hearts.
Do we give only for the recognition? For the praise and the belief that in doing so, maybe God will bless us with more? Or do we give because it’s in our hearts to do so? Because we truly want to do what’s right, and we strive to be a living testimony of Jesus’ grace?
“Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving maybe in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”matthew 6:1-4
I really enjoy helping people. There’s something about committing an act of kindness for another person that fills my bucket. And I like to share when I’ve done those things. But sometimes we gotta take a step back and evaluate what’s going on, and let’s be real for a minute.. that can be uncomfortable to do, right?
It can feel uncomfortable to really look at our motives. To push all excuses aside. And to evaluate why it is we do the things we do.
Most often, when we boast about our actions, even if those actions were something to be so proud of in our eyes and most importantly, God’s eyes – we lose sight of the bigger picture and we start seeking validation from other people before we seek validation from God.
It shouldn’t matter if someone else is impressed by our actions. What matters is God’s opinion.
That doesn’t necessarily mean hide your good works; instead, live those good works out loud for others to see, because in doing so, you are showing the world the love of Jesus. You are showing them what being a “good” Christian means. And hopefully you’re inspiring people to live a life closer to God.
But the fine line here is don’t do it for the sake of getting more Likes or Follows. Do it because God commands it and do it so often that other people can’t help but take notice of those good works.
Patience in Suffering
James then turns his message to those who were being oppressed.
He tells them that God has not cast them away. That He has in fact noticed their mistreatment and that the judgement day will be coming for those who have left them to suffer. The Lord is standing at the door and He is ready.
What a great reminder that someone (aka God – THE someone. The ultimate someone) has our back?
Being a human living on this planet can be hard. Especially over the last couple years. As much as I hate to admit it, it can be easy to fall into that trap of questioning everything, much like Habakkuk stood before God questioning why He kept allowing evil to happen. Why He kept allowing the suffering and the sadness to go on.
And, just like with Habakkuk and just like in this example from James – God allowed the questioning. He then responded with, “Look at the nations and observe – be utterly astounded! For I am doing something in your days that you will not believe when you hear about it.” Habakkuk 1:5.
“For justice will prevail and all the morally upright will be vindicated.”Psalm 94:15
God sees what is happening. He hears our cries. He sees our pain. And He’s not leaving us to fend for ourselves, even if sometimes we feel that we are alone – we never are.
God gifted us with free will. Unfortunately, we live in a world that can be easily swayed – but God has promised riches to the righteous. He has promised eternal life for those who surrender their hearts to Him. He will hear our cries. He will see our pain. He will wait at the door to come to our defense and He will overcome the world that has brought us pain.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33
The tears we have cried will not be shed in vain.
“..and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20
He is with us.
The Prayer of Faith
“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 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. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”James 5:13-16
In all things pray and give praise.
“…all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
As Christians we have an ultimate responsibility to take care of one another, to pray for one another, and to share our testimony so that we may help lead more people to God’s eternal salvation.
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” – James 5:15
What better affirmation than that? The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective. In all things pray and give praise.
In all things, talk to God.
God is with us. Always.
See the cycle here? Pray to God when we’re thankful. Pray to God when we’re sad. Pray to God when we go through trials. Pray to God when we’re unsure. Or scared. Or at a standstill. He will hear our cries. He will listen for our prayers. He sees our struggles, and He celebrates our happiness.
So I think. friends, that what we learned here is pretty simple. Some takeaways from the Book of James:
- We have to praise God even through our hardships. In all things, pray and give praise.
- Our trials will help us stand stronger in our faith, and we will grow from these tribulations.
- If we’re going to talk the talk, we have to walk the walk. It’s a must.
- There is power in our words. We can’t pray to God one minute and turn around and slander our neighbor the next.
- We are not better than anyone. ANYONE.
- There is only one true Judge and it ain’t us.
- In order to achieve righteousness, we must discern between earthly wisdom, and holy wisdom.
- A friend of the world is an enemy of God. Our validation should come from Him. It doesn’t matter how many likes or followers we have, if God isn’t pleased with us, we have nothing.
- We are only a mist that appears for a little while and then disappears (still feeling that sting but I also love the shade of it).
- Our suffering will not be done in vain. If we stay rooted in our faith and praise God through it all, our prayers will be effective. They will be heard and He is standing at the door waiting for us. He has overcome the world and we should take heart, because He is with us always.
What was your big takeaway from this study? I’d love to know what lesson really stood out to you!