James 5 wraps up with some clear guidance on how we should live in preparation for the last days. James describes what the people have been doing to get ready:
– “You have laid up treasure
– You have lived on the earth in luxury and self-indulgence
– You have fattened your hearts
– You have condemned
– You have murdered the righteous person”
Wow – sounds quite a bit like today doesn’t it. Focused on self and what we can accumulate, living for self and what we can consume, pointing fingers and blaming others, and still crucifying our Lord by our continued sin and selfish actions. James is talking to people just like us here.
So what does he say? “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. 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”. We need to learn to wait on the Lord. We want it our way and we want it right now. But God is not running on our timeline. God wants us to learn to wait upon Him. We are also told “do not grumble against one another”. Plenty of grumbling going on around us isn’t there? But instead we need to realize we will be “blessed who remain steadfast”. God wants us to just walk with Him day by day and quit comparing ourselves with others. We need to live faithfully as we walk with Him.
James gives a foundation for how we should relate with each other. “let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation”. Are you honest in how you conduct yourself with those in your patch? Does your word mean anything? It should. Our word should be exactly what we are going to do. It is a powerful way to let people know we are living God’s way – when what we do lines up with what we say.
James also teaches us the importance of the body. “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed”. There is much power in confession. It isn’t an easy thing to do – to admit we messed up and need to be set free from our sin – but it is a critical part of getting right with God and with each other. We all know that no one is perfect. We all know that there are things that need to be confessed. So trying to appear like we are without sin is fooling no one but ourselves. Why does it matter? “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working”. Because if we get it right we can impact each other deeply through prayer. Intercession is a powerful way to make a difference in the lives of others. We need to learn to pray.
Finally James lays this on us: “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 don’t live in our own little bubble where we are to ignore everyone else. We are in the body of Christ to help each other live right. And that means we have to be willing to confront sin and help others fix it. Not just by pointing it out and telling them they are wrong, but by coming alongside and helping restore them. Did you catch that in James words? We need to bring back a sinner from his wandering – we have to get into the trenches beside them and help them find their way back to God and His direction. Not finger pointing but coming along side and getting in the mud with them. Are you doing that? Do you let others do that for you? Or do you stiff arm those who might come to you with suggestions and help in how to life God’s way? Life matters – we need to leverage the body to help us do life well!