God’s Word Goes Forth: Grow in God’s Wisdom
James 5:1-20: James issues a warning to the rich and calls attention to workers who are mistreated. He encourages his readers to be patient until the Lord returns and to pray in all circumstances.
Today's Scripture: James 5:16b
The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect.
1 And now, you rich people, listen to me! Weep and wail over the miseries that are coming upon you! 2 Your riches have rotted away, and your clothes have been eaten by moths. 3 Your gold and silver are covered with rust, and this rust will be a witness against you and will eat up your flesh like fire. You have piled up riches in these last days. 4 You have not paid any wages to those who work in your fields. Listen to their complaints! The cries of those who gather in your crops have reached the ears of God, the Lord Almighty. 5 Your life here on earth has been full of luxury and pleasure. You have made yourselves fat for the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered innocent people, and they do not resist you. 7 Be patient, then, my friends, until the Lord comes. See how patient farmers are as they wait for their land to produce precious crops. They wait patiently for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You also must be patient. Keep your hopes high, for the day of the Lord's coming is near. 9 Do not complain against one another, my friends, so that God will not judge you. The Judge is near, ready to appear. 10 My friends, remember the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Take them as examples of patient endurance under suffering. 11 We call them happy because they endured. You have heard of Job's patience, and you know how the Lord provided for him in the end. For the Lord is full of mercy and compassion. 12 Above all, my friends, do not use an oath when you make a promise. Do not swear by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Say only “Yes” when you mean yes, and “No” when you mean no, and then you will not come under God's judgment. 13 Are any among you in trouble? They should pray. Are any among you happy? They should sing praises. 14 Are any among you sick? They should send for the church elders, who will pray for them and rub olive oil on them in the name of the Lord. 15 This prayer made in faith will heal the sick; the Lord will restore them to health, and the sins they have committed will be forgiven. 16 So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed. The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect. 17 Elijah was the same kind of person as we are. He prayed earnestly that there would be no rain, and no rain fell on the land for three and a half years. 18 Once again he prayed, and the sky poured out its rain and the earth produced its crops. 19 My friends, if any of you wander away from the truth and another one brings you back again, 20 remember this: whoever turns a sinner back from the wrong way will save that sinner's soul from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.
James is not warning against riches, but rather against the love of riches that causes people to turn away from God and act in ways that displease God (see 1 Timothy 6:10). Does his warning have any implications for today? What does James say about how we are to act while waiting for the Lord to return? What does he say about prayer? Have you experienced the power of prayer? Reread verses 19-20. What is the importance of bringing back someone who has wandered away from the truth?
God of wholeness and healing, help me to pray in all circumstances and to pray in accord with your will. Restore to your loving fold any who may have wandered away from your truth so that they once again may know and experience your love and grace. Amen.
Those who are living in poverty
Psalm 34: The psalmist praises God’s goodness.