You have reached the final chapter of James. I hope God has encouraged you as you are becoming more and more dependent on Him. You have found James to be a very straightforward “slave of God,” as he described himself in back in 1:1. He taught you that following Jesus encompasses your whole being. Take some time and study Romans 12 for added insight.
While you study Paul’s teachings in Romans, think about what you learned with James’ teachings, like your walk needs to match you talk. Temptations will come, so you need to have an anchored faith that can endure when the world is distracting you. You are not to favor one over another, your words matter so watch your tongue, and we are not to judge. You must, also, be careful in how you view yourself.
Are you self-confident or God-confident? What is the difference? How can Proverbs 3, especially verse 5, help you to become God-confident?
James continues teaching us in James 5. Go ahead and read it. The first part of James 5 might be a hard pill to swallow for many Americans. The American Dream has blinded many people. Sadly, many Christians have blended themselves into the ways of the world, and have caused themselves to lose their footing and leave the narrow path; see Matthew 7:13-14. The enemy has lured them away, and in their self-confidence they cannot see clearly.
James gives a warning about being financially wealthy. It does make life easier, or does it? What lies ahead for rich people in verse 1? How does verses 2 -3a reveal this calamity?
“The very wealth you were counting on (for retirement, vacations, education, etc.) will eat away your flesh like fire.”3
Stop and allow God to speak to your soul. Money will eat at your flesh like fire.
The second part of verse 3 reveals how your worldly wealth will hinder whether heaven is in your future. How so? Verse 4 reveals how wealth can destroy a man’s heart by cheating others and treating them unfairly. Many take advantage of those who have less or are below them in stature.
What do you learn about God at the end of verse 4 that is encouraging? God hears your cries when life becomes unfair. God fights the battles of His children. Turn to Him and He will help you. Be uplifted by Exodus 14:13-14 and Deuteronomy 1:29-30.
Verse 5 describes many Americans. How so? How about verse 6?
May you and I live with simple, content hearts as we seek our Lord with all our mind, soul, and strength, and find that our wealth comes from the presence of God alone.
James now teaches about having patience. Why does James ask you to be patient, see verse 7? Jesus is returning and you and I must never allow ourselves to forget this, for when we do, we put on blinders of self-confidence. James uses a farmer as an example of patience. Why?
Here is another pill to swallow, “don’t grumble about each other.”9 Why not?
James continues on with patience in verses 10-11. You and I know that patience often means suffering. Waiting on God takes every ounce from you. If you are like me, I don’t wait well. I have this thing called expectation that trips me up. Expectations cause me to close my hands and hold onto how I want things to play out. God is faithful to answer in His time and His way, but He finds me stressed and irritated instead of waiting patiently knowing He will take care of the situation. He brings me to humility which leads to acceptance of His will. I sit at His feet broken, and He restores me. If you desire to learn more, study Job in the Old Testament.
In verse 12, you are told to never take an oath that you will not keep. This causes more strife than it’s worth. Why would James have you learn this? Read Matthew 5:33-37 for added insight.
James ends his book with the most powerful tool that helps you in all areas of your life! Prayer is your lifeline to God. It is available 24/7/365. God is never too busy to hear from you. Prayer is what keeps you focused on God. Learn to talk with God about everything, and you will find that you walk away from Him a lot less.
At some point in your life, you will experience hardships. What does James say to do? What are you to do when you are happy? What if you are sick? What promises does James give in verse 15 that should help you to walk by faith?
You will fall short of God and others. What are you to do according to verse 16? Why? What do you learn about Elijah in verse 17 that caused God to respond to him?
What stark reality is true for you and me, see verse 19? We all are one decision, one choice away from wandering off the narrow road. Be thankful when God uses someone to get you back on track.
May you be humbled and broken over your sins. God will restore you when you turn around and allow Him to lead you. May the truth about you in your flesh cause you to make the necessary changes so you can live how God wants you to live, redeemed and holy. May the words from James become more than head knowledge, may they cause you to sit in God’s presence and where He fills you with Himself.
God will cause your soul to be content, satisfied and joyful, even if circumstances don’t change. His presence within you is what you are needing.