James 5: Oppression, Suffering and the Power of Prayer

Serving as a warning to rich oppressors, the first part of the fifth chapter of the Epistle of James singles out the wealthy among us, those pointed out by Christ to have great difficulty to enter the kingdom of God, “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)

While the bible mentions many godly people blessed with earthly wealth such as Solomon, Job, David, Abraham, Lydia, Barnabas and Joseph just to name a few, the word clearly identifies these as faithful servants focused on heavenly wealth.

In the first few verses of this chapter, James targets rich oppressors that take advantage of the poor thriving through exploitation rather than through love and fairness. James promises judgment upon those who prey on the poor.

“1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.”(James 5:1-6)

James then invites us to be patient in times of suffering knowing that the Lord’s coming is near. James also calls on believers to avoid “grumbling” mentioning that such complaining is displeasing to God even while enduring injustice. A deceptive double edged sword that slices through those expressing dissatisfaction, grumbling shows weak faith and ungratefulness.

“7 Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:7-9)

Every believer, if immersed in the body of Christ and serving the Lord with all his heart will experience some degree of suffering. No true servant of Jesus Christ goes through life without trials, without suffering. Since no one knows exactly when the Lord will make His triumphant return, it is wise to endure trails and suffering with divine patience made possible by the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.

“10 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” (James 5:10-11)

One of the most important part of this chapter involves honesty and truth. This verse calls on believers to speak the truth without using the Lord’s name in vain or as a form of validity for any statement other than testimonies in a court setting. This verse is a reminder to carefully watch the words we say of face condemnation.

“12 Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.” (James 5:12)

James then invites us to rely on the power or prayer in times of suffering. Prayer is also a double edge sword that holds great potential as prayers and answered and, often more importantly, prayers bring people closer to God. Time spent in prayer allows us to spend time with God allowing our relationship with our creator to mature, to grow faithfully.

“13 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” (James 5:13-18)

In the last verses of his Epistle, James points out the immense reward associated with discipleship. Keeping an eye out for our brothers and sisters in Christ and acting upon their actions, James illustrates the great impact we can have on others through obedience in the word, through faith in Christ and through prayer.

“19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)

One of the most compelling books of the bible, the Epistle of James invites us to be doers of the word of God, to be quick to listen and slow to speak, to watch what we say and keep our tongues in check. It also teaches us that through God’s grace we are saved by faith and that Christ’s sacrifice is justified by our works. James helps us differenciate earthly wisdom and heavenly wisdom. He also mentions we are to end wars we fight within ourselves, with each other and with God. James calls on us to rely on God’s will and trust His divine plan for our lives and finally, the epistle hilights the great power of prayer to be used as we endure trials and suffering.

Let’s pray!

Father God;
We thank you for this day and for your servant James
We praise you Lord for his wisdom and for his works through this epistle,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use this book in our lives
As we grow in you through the teachings of James.

Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day
And to put us to work for you,
Allowing us to spread your divine light
To those who dwell in darkness or have strayed from righteousness.

God we pray that you will continue to bless us
And answer our prayers to you Lord ,
Giving us all that we need
To fulfill your plan for our lives.

May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.

We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.

Praise God,
Amen!

This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre
Email: DanielStPierre@ThriveThroughChrist.com

Posted in Bible Studies.