James warns rich Christians. Wait patiently for the return of Jesus. Do not make promises. Anoint sick people with oil. Confess your sins to one another. [UPDATED]
miseries that are coming on you. Many Christians wish they were rich. They imagine riches are a sign of God’s blessing. They view billionaires as heroes.
However, the Lord Jesus Christ does NOT view rich people are heroes:
Mark 10:21. Jesus looking at him loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack. Go, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me, taking up the cross.”
Luke 6:24. But woe to you who are rich! For you have received your consolation.
Luke 16:25. But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you, in your lifetime, received your good things, and Lazarus, in the same way, bad things. But here he is now comforted, and you are in anguish.
Luke 18:22. When Jesus heard these things, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have, and distribute it to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
VERSE 2. Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten.
VERSE 3. Your gold and your silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be for a testimony against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up your treasure in the last days.
the last days. The return of the Lord Jesus is immanent. It could happen at any moment. For that reason, these are the “last” days.
VERSE 4. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you have kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of those who reaped have entered into the ears of the Lord of Armies.
kept back by fraud. Rich people often defraud their workers of their just wages.
Leviticus 19:13. You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning.
Deuteronomy 24:14. You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers, or one of the foreigners who are in your land within your gates.
Deuteronomy 24:15. In his day you shall give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down on it; for he is poor, and sets his heart on it; lest he cry against you to the LORD, and it be sin to you.
VERSE 5. You have lived in luxury on the earth, and taken your pleasure. You have nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter.
Acts 3:14. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,
Acts 7:52. Which of the prophets didn’t your fathers persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, of whom you have now become betrayers and murderers.
James 5:6. You have condemned and you have murdered the righteous one. He doesn’t resist you.
1 Peter 3:18. Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit,
1 John 2:1. My little children, I write these things to you so that you may not sin. If anyone sins, we have a Counselor with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous.
VERSE 7. Be patient therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it, until it receives the early and late rain.
VERSE 8. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
VERSE 9. Don’t grumble, brothers, against one another, so that you won’t be judged. Behold, the judge stands at the door.
Don’t grumble … against one another. Complaining about one another is a grievous offense.
VERSE 10. Take, brothers, for an example of suffering and of perseverance, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
VERSE 11. Behold, we call them blessed who endured. You have heard of the perseverance of Job, and have seen the Lord in the outcome, and how the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
VERSE 12. But above all things, my brothers, don’t swear— not by heaven, or by the earth, or by any other oath; but let your “yes” be “yes”, and your “no”, “no”, so that you don’t fall into hypocrisy.
don’t swear … by … oath. Oaths and promises are incompatible with the Christian life.
Ecclesiastes 5:1. Guard your steps when you go to God’s house; for to draw near to listen is better than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they don’t know that they do evil.
Sirach 29:3. Confirm your word, and keep faith with him; And at all seasons you shall find what you need.
Matthew 5:37. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No.’ Whatever is more than these is of the evil one.
James 5:12. But above all things, my brothers, don’t swear— not by heaven, or by the earth, or by any other oath; but let your “yes” be “yes”, and your “no”, “no”, so that you don’t fall into hypocrisy.
VERSE 13. Is any among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praises.
VERSE 14. Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the assembly, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord,
Is any among you sick? These verses map out the anointing of the sick with oil. This is one way that Christians pray for healing.
Let him call for the elders of the assembly. The first thing is to call for the leaders of one’s local church. The Greek word for “elder” is presbyter.
let them pray over him. The elders pray over the sick person.
anointing him with oil. The elders anoint the sick person with oil.
VERSE 15. and the prayer of faith will heal him who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
heal him who is sick. Ideally, the sick person will be cured.
In practice, however, it rarely works out that way. Many people are anointed by the leaders of their church, yet they are not healed.
VERSE 16. Confess your offenses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The insistent prayer of a righteous person is powerfully effective.
This verse is referred to in a famous book on continuous prayer called The Way of a Pilgrim.
Confess your offenses to one another. Many people find it helpful to tell other people their sins. There are accountability groups for some sins. Some churches have a sacrament of confession.
This verse is very different from what is said in Sirach chapter 19:
Sirach 19:7. Tell nothing to friend or foe; if you have a fault, reveal it not. (NAB translation)
The insistent prayer. How can we be more insistent, more fervent in prayer?
is powerfully effective. Do you find that God answers your prayer?
1 Samuel 7:8. The children of Israel said to Samuel, “Don’t stop crying to the LORD our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.”
VERSE 17. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it didn’t rain on the earth for three years and six months.
VERSE 18. He prayed again, and the sky gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
VERSE 19. Brothers, if any among you wanders from the truth and someone turns him back,
VERSE 20. let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.