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Janet's Corner

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Lesson 21: Real Faith Waits for Jesus to Come

James 5:1-11 

Looking for evidences that our faith is real. James warns of much that can take us off the path of maturity toward becoming Christ-like. This scripture in Chapter 5 continues to encourage us to be faithful to the end as we await the coming of Jesus.

Read James 5:1-11

James begins by addressing the rich who are most likely not believers. In most of the other passages including the transition in verse 7, he addresses the ones whom he is speaking to as brothers. There were many Jews who had rejected the gospel and were persecuting believers. This is a warning announcing their judgment. It is not a call to repentance. And so he says they should weep and wail at the misery that is coming.

Then in verse 2 he begins to describe these rich people.

1.  They’ve stored up their treasures– hoarded their wealth in the last days. Vs 2-3 And what has happened to them? Riches have rotted. Clothes are moth-eaten. Gold and silver has rusted –pretty impossible, but this is showing us the how perishable temporal things are. This is the first mention of the "last days," which are the days that began with the first coming of Christ and will end with His return when their final judgment will take place.

These things which they have stored up will testify against them.

2.  They are oppressing their workers by withholding their pay.

Vs 4 This treatment which is rebuked throughout the Word of God is crying out against them. Yet the believers who are being oppressed or persecuted are crying out to the Lord and He has heard them!

3.  They are living in luxury and self-indulgence. Vs 5 This is often the effect of great riches and abundance.

4.  They have condemned and put to death the righteous, who were not even resisting or opposing them. Which probably implies they used there money to get what they wanted in the courts.

They were rich unbelieving people who were oppressing and persecuting believers. While they were storing up their wealth, the truth is, they were storing up the judgment of God against them. Riches are uncertain, but judgment for them is certain.

We need God’s perspective on the rich…those who seem to "have it all": Psalm 73 gives it to us.

Verse 2-3 David envied the arrogant as he saw their prosperity. And he almost slipped – off that path.

Verse 13 After a description of what he saw as true about the rich, he questions if it has been worth it to walk in purity before God.

Verse 16 this was all oppressive to him. He couldn’t understand why them and not him – until he entered the sanctuary of God and understood their final destiny. (verse 17)

Verse 18 they are on slippery ground.

Verse 19 They will suddenly be destroyed.

Verse 21-22 David was senseless and ignorant when he was grieved and his heart was embittered toward these men and even God.

Verse 23-28 David gets God’s perspective as primary in his thinking. Has the picture of what’s happened around you ever gotten you defeated and ready to give up. We must look to our God for truth and clarity of thinking. Not our feeling or even the facts of what is happening right here and now

Now in verse 7, James turns to exhorting the believers. Hold on, you believers. You who are being persecuted and oppressed. The unrighteous will be judged and eternal life with rewards awaits you at the second coming of Christ!

James gives them 3 exhortations and three examples to encourage them to hold on…These are words to us today…

1.  "Be Patient" Vs 7 This phrase is used three times in two verses. Be patient until the Lord comes. Walking in righteousness as we wait to see Jesus, no matter what is happening to us. Remember, Jesus is coming! As he calls us to patience, he uses the example of the farmer who patiently waits his crop and patiently waits the spring and fall rains. Crops aren’t produced overnight. The farmer even has to await the spring rains that will soften the soil and the fall rains which will bring the crop to maturity. It is the same for us. We wait for the harvest when Jesus returns and takes us out of this world. As we wait, the Lord is softening our hearts and bringing us to maturity.

2.  Stand Firm Vs 8 He again repeats the exhortation to be patient, but adds stand firm. Be established in your faith so that nothing rocks you, trips you, causes you to fall. God uses his word and prayer, and others to establish us so that we can stand firm. The NAS says "strengthen your heart." We need that inner strength to stand in the midst of oppression and persecution. A heart not established or not able to stand firm, cannot produce fruit. God wants to produce a harvest through our lives! And we have seen the work of trials that brings about maturity in our lives in chapter Remember the Lord’s coming is near!

3.  Don’t grumble against each other. Vs 9 They had much to complain about. James has already showed us the futility and the detrimental effects of complaining. Grumbling can change the whole course of our lives and the work that God has purposed. Complaining keeps us out of the promised land, just like the Israelites. The judge is standing at the door. Jesus came the first time as the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. He will come again as Judge.

James knew we would need some other encouragement to stand in the midst of oppression as we wait patiently for the Lord. So he gives us two other examples in James 5.

1.  The prophets of old. Vs 10 who are an example of patience in the face of suffering. Matthew 5:10-12 are the words of Jesus to us that teach this overriding principle that we are considered blessed if we endure persecution. When persecuted for righteousness, we gain the kingdom of heaven – eternal life. When we insulted, persecuted and spoken evil about, we should rejoice because our reward is in heaven – "for in the same way the prophets were persecuted before you." II Timothy 3:12 state that everyone who wants to live a godly life will be persecuted. We are aliens here on earth. Our ways are not God’s ways. We will be persecuted. But suffering does not mean we are out of the will of God. The prophets were doing God’s will and were persecuted, yet God took care of them in the midst of the trial. He will care for us and eternally, we have great rewards awaiting us! Life instead of death!

2.  Job Verse 11 He states the principle of those who persevere are blessed and uses the example of Job as a man who had staying power despite the great loss and affliction to his belongings and body. He lost all he had. His wife turned against him and wanted him to curse God. His friends called him a sinner and a hypocrite because of the suffering he was experience.. But God found him blameless - a man of integrity. A man who would not curse God. Satan desired Job to blame the Lord as Satan afflicted him – see his suffering wasn’t from sin or hypocrisy. It was a direct attack by Satan, permitted and limited by God. The outcome of all this suffering was that Job saw God in a new way…Job 42:1-6 Job was humbled before God as he saw God for himself! After he had prayed for his friends, Job was blessed with twice as much as he had before. The reward is great when we persevere in our faith through any trial! God will honor you.

Stay steady and strong. Jesus is coming! Remember the wicked will get what is due them – they are piling up judgment on themselves. But those who persevere until the end will be blessed.