James 5

James 5 confronts the reality of riches when used incorrectly.  “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you….You have laid up treasureYou have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence”.  There is nothing wrong with money.  It’s how we respond to money that matters.  All the money on the planet belongs to God.  When we lose sight of that, and think somehow it is our own, we slide down a slippery slope of greed and idolatry that will lead to God’s response. “You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you”. There will be a price to pay for living rich.

It doesn’t necessarily happen quickly.  God tells us to be patient. “See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains”.  Everything happens in its time.  And we are not in control, of the rain, or God’s return.  So how we live matters.  Not only with our money, but also in how we relate to each other.  James tells us to “let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no”.  That is a noble thought.  Wouldn’t it be nice if a person’s word meant something?  That’s what God expects.

He also expects us to be engaged with those in our patch.  “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord”.  God works in our lives through the body of Christ – the church.  We need to do life together there, and live life in a way that those around us can be part of the challenges we face.  The Christian life is not meant to be a solo event.  We are to do life as Christ Followers together.

But it goes deeper than praying for each other.  James tells us to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working”.  We’re getting pretty deep now.  It’s one thing to ask for prayer, its entirely another to be transparent about our sins.  But that’s how the church should work.  We need to be accountable to each other.  And we need to submit to each other too.  “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. We have a responsibility to help each other stay the course.  If we wander, we need someone to pull us out of the ditch and back on the path of being a Christ Follower.  It’s our responsibility to each other in the body!

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