TITLE: James 5:1-11
By Preacher Johnson
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(All Scripture used in this article is from the KJV Bible)
V1-3 “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.”
We must ask ourselves individually: “Where is my heart?” Does our heart side with the material things of this world? James speaks of misery, corruption, moth-eaten garments and rusty decay. All these things happen to those who have heaped up treasure of the earthly kind. Since our heart goes where our treasure is (see Mt 6:21), then James must be talking about those who put more value on the things of this world than on things of eternal value.
Many people will “play” with church and the Lord. We are told not to forsake the assembly, but to use the assembly as a time of building each other up, strengthening each other, helping one another (see Heb 9:25). So many go only when it is convenient, when they have nothing else to do. If you fall into this category, the question must be asked: “Where is your treasure? Where is your heart?”
Should we stand before the Lord, in the middle of a junk yard, with all our worldly goods rusted and moth-eaten, in heaps all around us? Are we willing to see Him point to a pile of rubble and ask why we put so much time and effort into that and so little toward Him?
It should also be noted that the word used in verse one is “miseries” not misery. It is plural. When our priorities are not correct life will be one set of simultaneous miseries after another. Problems raising the kids, financial woes, marriage breakups, arguing with the neighbor, church splits, the list almost seems eternal, all because our life’s number one priority is something other than Jesus Christ. Is it worth it?
V4 “Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.”
The condition of our heart will always lead to some sort of action. James, using the example of someone who’s heart desire is this world’s goods, reveals the outcome: the taking advantage of others. This fails the second great commandment (Mt 22:38-39, Mk 12:30-31, James 2:8). Don’t try to separate your job from your Christianity. We will spend approximately halve of our waking hours doing something with our occupation. The people we work with, the people we meet on a daily basis, are either lost and in need of the Lord or are saved and in need of some wonderful fellowship, pay closer attention to them and their needs. Let them see Christ and not someone who is only out for what he can get.
V5 “Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished you hearts, as in a day of slaughter.”
To be “wanton” is to give yourself over to a life of pleasure. There is nothing wrong with being rich, but there is something wrong with wanting to be rich and having that desire control your life (1 Tim 6:10). When we get caught up in what we have, we forget the Lord (Hos 13:6). Once again James strikes the heart. What is the number one priority in your life? Where is your heart? Where is our concern for souls?
V6 “Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.”
Having our stuff as our number one priority boils down to being self-centered and not Christ centered. This self-centeredness brings causes us to lose all sense of the needs and wants of others and this is where verse six takes us. Since everything now revolves around me I can act as judge, jury and executioner. Our victims will be the innocent and those unwilling or unable to fight back.
This so much reminds me of Christ. He did not argue, He did not fight back. (Is 53:7) He allowed Himself to be killed. A group of self-centered men hung Christ on the cross, condemning and killing the Just One because they were envious (Mt 27:18, Mk 15:10).
V7-9 “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waitheth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.”
Now James brings us some practical advise. When there are those around us that act like the self-centered persons of the first six verses we are to wait, be patient. We are to look for that wonderful hope we have in the return of our Lord.
He wants us to establish our hearts. The key to the Christian life is in our hearts as it acts upon the Word of God. It is not enough for the cause of Christ for us to know what to do, we need to be doing it. We need to put actions behind our knowledge and beliefs. This is truly living by faith. James has been preaching this all along (James 1:3-4, 22-27; 2:14-26; 3:13, 17-18; 4:7-11, 17). In short, when the heart is right with God our actions and motives will be pure (see James 2:8).
V10-11 “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord: that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”
When we live by His Word is there anything that we cannot endure? The Lord does have pity on us; and mercy for us. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can withstand and He will provide us with all that we need to accomplish His will (1 Cor 10:13, Phil 4:13). He is the creator of the universe, the savior and keeper of our souls and our great provider. If our hearts are centered on Him we need nothing else (Ps 23:1, Mt 6:24-34).
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