James gives his final words to the arrogant rich. Money can corrupt and become a cancer from within if it is hoarded. Jesus said we should store up for ourselves riches in heaven where moth and rust cannot destroy (Matthew 6:19-21). Money is not inherently bad, but if you use your workers in the process, you better watch out! Money will be worthless when Christ returns, and we should use our time wisely in collecting the kind of treasure that will last into eternity in the Kingdom of God. Money is not evil but the love of it is (1 Timothy 6:10).
Poor laborers during that time were often thrown in prison or forced to sell all their possessions if they had debts. Sometimes even family members had to be sold into slavery. Some even died of starvation. James called exploitation of these kinds of people, murder (5:6).
James 5:7 begins with a "therefore, be patient." The "therefore" is directly related to the coming judgment of the hoarding, exploiting rich. Suffering saints were to "patiently endure" until the Second Coming of Jesus when he will right all the wrongs in this world. The world has tribulation (John 16:33; Acts 14:22). The Greek word for patience in 5:7-8 is makrothumeo, which means to be "long-tempered," and the Greek word for endure in 5:11 is, hupomeno, which means "to remain under." He uses the example of the farmer, the prophets, and Job when he speaks of patiently enduring.
James warns against grumbling or blaming others when we are suffering. We should not judge others for their shortcomings because Jesus is the Judge who will evaluate us in the end (Matthew 7:1-5; 25:31-46). God will make it all work out in the end because He is compassionate and merciful!
James' warning against making an oath seems out of place, but people often make "bargains" with God when they are suffering and under pressure. If you are patiently enduring, there is no need to make bargains or oaths. We just need to be honest, straightforward, and trustworthy through it.
James concludes this wonderful letter with an emphasis on prayer. Prayer and its synonyms are mentioned seven times in eight verses and eight if you count "praise" as part of prayer (5:13-20)!
Prayer demonstrates active care for other believers and faith in action as we pray for those who are sick and suffering. It is also a means of patiently relying on God through suffering and trials. It is interesting to note that the conservative commentators interpret the anointing with oil by elders as being for spiritual suffering and not for physical sickness. They contend that the Greek words for "healing," iáomai (5:16), "restore," sozo (5:15), and "sick," astheneo (5:14) and kamno (5:15), indicate spiritual healing and restoration of "spiritual weariness" rather than physical sickness, but my dictionaries say it can be either.
He calls believers to follow the example of suffering, ordinary Elijah who prayed earnestly and persistently in faith for the cessation and resumption of rain (1 Kings 17:1; 18:41-46). Like Elijah, righteous believers, (because of the blood of Christ) can pray in faith and see God answer! "Tremendous power is made available through a good man's earnest prayer" (James 5:16, Phillips). We should also pray for and go after believers who wander from the Word of God.
REFLECTION/APPLICATION from Warren Wiersbe!
This brings us to the end of our study of James. His emphasis has been spiritual maturity. This would be a good time for us to examine our own hearts to see how mature we really are. Here are a few questions to assist you:
1. Am I becoming more and more patient in the testings of life? (Chapter 1)
2. Do I play with temptation or resist it from the start? (Chapter 1)
3. Do I find joy in obeying the Word of God, or do I merely study it and learn it? (Chapter 1)
4. Are there any prejudices that shackle me? (Chapter 2)
5. Am I able to control my tongue? (Chapter 3)
6. Am I a peacemaker rather than a troublemaker? Do people come to me for spiritual wisdom? (Chapter 3)
7. Am I a friend of God or a friend of the world? (Chapter 4)
8. Do I make plans without considering the will of God? (Chapter 4)
9. Am I selfish when it comes to money? Am I unfaithful in the paying of my bills? (Chapter 5)
10. Do I naturally depend on prayer when I find myself in some kind of trouble? (Chapter 5)
11. Am I the kind of person others seek for prayer support? (Chapter 5)
12. What is my attitude toward the wandering brother? Do I criticize and gossip, or do I seek to restore him in love? (Chapter 5)
Don’t just grow old—grow up!
PRAYER(The Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 2, Jas 5:19, p. 386)
Lord, I am so convicted to be a persistent prayer warrior for those who are suffering. Please help me do that. Amen.