Day 11: James 5:1-12
At the beginning of this series Richard described the letter of James as a manual for Christian living. In these verses James focuses briefly on our attitude towards money and perseverance.
Here James bluntly expresses his thoughts concerning rich people. Not so much that they had money but that their attitude towards it was arrogance and greed rather than generosity. 1 Timothy 6:10 tells us “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”.
Their love for money led them to have no regard for others, exploiting and cheating people, to line their own pockets. However, God sees and hears the cry of the oppressed. The Message version describes Him as the “Master Avenger” hence the encouragement James gives at the beginning of the chapter for the arrogant rich to turn from their ways! It is not up to us to bring vengeance but God, who is fair and just, will deal with them in His wisdom.
Money is like litmus paper – it tests our hearts. What we do with it shows the type of person we are and what really matters to us. I love the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). Once an accumulator of wealth but, when he met Jesus, his greed was turned to generosity. Matthew 6:19-20 tells us to store our treasure in heaven not on earth, exactly what Zacchaeus started to do.
Patience is something that doesn’t come easily to many people but patience while suffering is just plain difficult. James understood that those to whom he was writing were going through tough situations.
He encourages us to persevere and, in verses 10 and 11, uses the Old Testament prophets and Job as examples of those who suffered yet persisted in their ministry. The OT prophets often had a severe message to proclaim and Jeremiah for example was put in stocks, or imprisoned or put in a miry pit. Yet he persisted and was faithful. Job had great physical suffering, lost everything apart from a nagging wife and accusing friends, but in the end everything was restored doubly and Job had a much greater revelation of his God. In the midst of his trial he was able to declare “He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10.
God never seems to answer the question “Why?” That is where trust and perseverance is needed. Whatever we as Christians are going through, and some of us are experiencing great hardship right now, God is always good and will work things together for good for those who love Him so let’s keep going and never give up.