Wednesday, August 1, 2007

James, Chapter 5

Today brings a dose of closure to the first segment in this blog by finishing the book of James. In the final chapter we see an abrupt shift from a warning against oppression from the rich to a continuation of preaching patience in the face of suffering. AS we will see in the final verses, patience and faith go hand in hand when it comes to living a strong Christian life.

The opening of chapter five is a strong rebuke against those who have wealth, but do not share it. I personally see nothing wrong with wanting to gain wealth, as the author Russell Conwell in his work Acres of Diamonds spoke of how Christians should use their resources to gain wealth by good, honest means. It is what we do with that wealth that matters most. Wealth is a blessing, and we must be vigilant in what we do with that blessing. The parable of the lost son in the 15th chapter of Luke serves as another warning to wasted wealth. In the hands of the righteous, however, wealth can accomplish great things. The Word is very specific about tithing and giving back part of the blessing that we are appropriated. I don't want to turn this into a lesson on tithing, but we must be mindful that everything we are given, regardless of amount, ultimately belongs to God. It is an act of worship to give back to Him just the small portion that He asks for in return of that blessing.

"As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy." – James 5:11

After verse 6 we see the previously mentioned abrupt shift from rebuking to a lesson on patience. This ties in with what we saw in the very beginning of James with the lesson on perseverance. Patience is probably the virtue that comes in the smallest commodities in the universe. In today's society it seems as if everything is made to be delivered 30 seconds ago, and the simply joy of waiting for something and the satisfying feeling of earning something seems to have gone out of the world. With patience and perseverance we see that sometimes the journey itself is much more important than the destination, as that is often when God chooses to teach us the most.

Have you ever been so excited to get somewhere that you simply wish time would fly by so you could just get there already? This was the attitude I had during my freshman year of college. To me, I went to school solely to graduate and get on with my life. It is what was expected of me, and I wanted no part of the traditional "get to know you" exercises that come with the opening weeks of college. To me, school was just a goal, and not something to be enjoyed in pursuit of that goal. It wasn't until my junior year, after I had wasted two years merely working towards a goal without meeting new people or enjoying the atmosphere that I began to enjoy myself. In my last two years, however, I began to open up and see the benefits of the campus around me and the people there. Because of that, I had a much more enjoyable experience in my final two years because I saw there was much more to the experience than the goal of graduating. I also learned a lot more about myself that I needed to learn. If I had not opened myself up in this way, and patiently dealt with things that I thought were pointless, I wouldn't have had such a good time.

    "Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise." – James 5:13

The final section in the book of James gives us an excellent reminder of what we should do regardless of what is going on in our life. We should always remember to pray, through the good and the bad. It is easy to pray when things are going bad because we are seeking guidance in how to change our situation. It is still important to remember that when things are good we must give thanks to the one that provides everything. As I mentioned earlier, faith and patience go hand in hand. You can't really have one without the other. As our faith grows we often find that patience grows with it. Part of faith is also knowing when to trust God when the answer is no, and this relates to yesterday's discussion on heavenly wisdom versus earthly wisdom. We must have faith when we pray; even when we don't get the answer we specifically want.

And so concludes our discussion of the book of James. From here I plan to touch on something I mentioned in a previous entry, and that is the area of spiritual discipline. I attend a church called the Crux in Indianapolis and our pastor, Daron Earlewine, did a sermon series earlier this year on the four spiritual disciplines of prayer, silence, worship, and studying the Word. What will be published is a series of devotional writings I wrote at the time on these disciplines. I pray that those of you who read these brief treatises on the book of James found something useful in them, and I welcome you back as we begin discussing spiritual discipline.


  1. How do you view wealth and the responsibility that comes with it?
  2. What are some things in your life that you have persevered through that have made you stronger for it.
  3. In what other ways are faith and patience interconnected.

1 comment:

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