There are three final principles to learn from James
Read: James 5: 1-6
Principle #12 : Materialistic Idolatry
- Spiritual leaders should warn people never to allow materialism to deprive them of eternal life
- In this paragraph, James became very forthright regarding wealth
- He sounded like more like the Old Testament prophets when they addressed materialistic idolatry
1. Compared to many people in the world, we are indeed blessed; in fact, in comparison with most people who live now and who have lived in the past, we are very rich!
2. Now, it is important to stress that God does not condemn the rich for being rich…
- a. Some of the most godly people in the Bible were rich
- b. e.g., Job, Abraham, Joseph, David, Solomon, Barnabas, Philemon, Lydia
3. However, Christ does speak of the difficulty of the rich being saved – cf. Matthew 19:23-26
4. And there are times when God is very angry at the rich, as in our text – James 5:1-6:
5. As we consider this passage more carefully, we shall do so by trying to answer four questions…
- a. Who is James addressing in this passage?
- b. What is in store for these rich people?
- c. Why is God so angry at them?
- d. What applications can we draw from this passage?
WHO IS JAMES ADDRESSING IN THIS PASSAGE?
A. ARE THEY CHRISTIANS…?
1. Are these rich Christians who had been guilty of oppressing their brethren?
2. Possibly, but unlikely for several reasons…
- a. They are not addressed as “brethren” as is often done in this epistle – James 1:2,19; 2:1, 14; 3:1,10; 4:11
- b. There is no call to repentance in this passage
- 1) As there is throughout this epistle in those passages in which it is clear brethren are being addressed
- 2) Here there is only condemnation!
- c. The brethren are not addressed until verse 7, in which they are told to be patient in light of what has just been said
B. MORE LIKELY, THOSE ADDRESSED ARE RICH UNBELIEVERS…
- 1. Who had been oppressing the Christians - James 2:6
- 2. This tirade of judgment upon them appears to serve the purpose of comforting the brethren who were being oppressed by them - James 5:7
- a. The Lord has heard their cries – James 5:4b
- b. Judgment is coming upon these rich oppressors
- c. Therefore the Christians are told to be patient
But even if this passage does not have direct reference to rich Christians, there are still things to which we should give careful heed. And so, we ask…]
II. WHAT IS IN STORE FOR THESE RICH OPPRESSORS?
A. MISERIES THAT WILL CAUSE THEM TO “WEEP AND HOWL”…! (1-3a)
1. So certain are these miseries to come, that James speaks of them already occurring!
- a. Riches are corrupted
- b. Garments are moth-eaten
- c. Gold and silver are corroded
2. When this “corrosion” of their riches occurs…
- a. It will serve as a witness against them (that they were guilty of the things to be mentioned shortly)
- b. It will eat their flesh like fire
- 1) The anguish and misery of poverty usually affects the hardest those who were once rich!
- 2) Thus, when poverty strikes, it will make them “weep and howl” as though they were on fire!
B. THE MISERIES SPOKEN HERE MAY HAVE REFERENCE TO WHAT LATER OCCURRED IN THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM IN A.D. 70…
1. Not long after this epistle was written, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans
2. Many of the rich Jews who had oppressed their Christian brethren literally “weeped and howled”
3. What they had failed to realize was that they had heaped up treasure “in the last days” (James 5:3b)
a. Like the man in the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21), they thought they were laying up riches for their latter days
b. When in fact, it was the “last days” of the Jewish economy when they were so busy storing up wealth!
c. Like some today, who store up for retirement and then die before they retire!
The miseries that came upon these rich people were terrible indeed (as described by Flavius Josephus, an eyewitness of the destruction of Jerusalem). Even if it did not come in the destruction of Jerusalem, it certainly came upon them when they died, as it did upon the rich man in the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)!
This leads us to the third question…
III.WHY IS GOD SO ANGRY AT THESE RICH PEOPLE?
A. BECAUSE OF HOW THEY GOT THEIR WEALTH…
1. It was through wicked means – James 5:4
2. Specifically, by withholding wages from those who had worked for them
3. Just as some people today get rich through dishonest schemes or unjust labor practices!
B. BECAUSE OF HOW THEY USED THEIR WEALTH…
1. They hoarded their wealth – James 5:3b
2. They spent it on themselves with pleasures and luxury – James 5:5 (fattening themselves like cows for the slaughter!)
3. They used the power that comes with wealth to oppress “the just” – Ja 5:6
a. Possibly a reference to Christ
b. Or the Christian whom they also oppressed
[The manner in which they got their wealth and used it caused those who were oppressed to cry out, and the Lord heard their prayers (Ja 5:4). Now, God
who is just is about to bring judgment upon these rich oppressors! Having examined this passage more closely...]
IV. WHAT APPLICATIONS CAN WE DRAW?
A. WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL HOW WE OBTAIN OUR WEALTH…
1. To do so at the expense of others will bring God’s wrath upon us! - Deuteronomy 24:14,15
2. It is wrong to think that success can only come by stepping on others
3. This might be an appropriate place to add what we learn from Paul in 1 Timothy 6:9-10
a. It is not riches that are wrong, but the desire to be rich that is wrought with danger!
b. Riches are not wrong if they are the byproduct of our endeavors, and not the goal
1) one may desire to be a doctor to help the sick, or a plumber because of one’s skill or interest in such matters, and receive riches as a byproduct because of the value society might place on such services
2) But to enter such professions solely because one’s goal is to get rich thereby, then we are ensnared by the love of money!
4. So how do we obtain our wealth?
a. If we do it honestly and in compensation for a job well done, God is not displeased
b. If we do it by hurting others and by making wealth our primary object, then we are in danger of God’s wrath!
B. WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL HOW WE USE OUR WEALTH…
1. To spend it on luxurious living when others are suffering…
a. Is exactly what James has described in this passage
b. Is an indication of the lack of the love of God – 1 John 3:17
2. According to the New Testament, the purpose of working is not to obtain wealth for our own gratification, but to help those less fortunate!
a. As commanded by Paul – Ephesians 4:28; 1 Timothy 6:17-19
b. As exemplified by Paul – Acts 20:34-35
1. Living in the country and society in which we do, we have much for which to be thankful
2. But we also have much of which we need to beware…
a. We live in a society where it is quite easy to become wealthy
b. We live in a society where covetousness or the desire to be rich are not considered sins
c. We live in a society where heaping up treasures for our own gratification is considered an inalienable right!
– It is easy to be influenced by these values!
3. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves constantly: Are we laying up treasure in heaven, or on earth?
a. Those who lay up treasure in heaven are those who use their wealth to do good and help the poor and less fortunate – cf. Mt 19:21; 1 Ti 6:18-19
b. Those who lay up treasure on earth are actually storing up for themselves miseries and wrath!
1) Miseries…when their wealth fails them in their time of true need
2) Wrath…from God in the Day of wrath that is yet to come
These are sobering thoughts worthy of our careful consideration. Have you even begun to lay up treasure in heaven by obeying the gospel of Christ?
Read: James 5:7-12
1. Do you feel like someone is out to get you? That they are
trying to take advantage of you? That
you are being oppressed?
2. What should you do when you are oppressed? What should
you not do?
3. In James 5, James gives instructions to those who
appear to have been oppressed by the rich…
a. Notice Ja 2:6
b. The rich had been holding back their wages – cf. Ja
c. The rich had been oppressing the righteous – cf. Ja
– What were the oppressed Christians to do?
4. In Ja 5:7-12 (and surrounding verses), we find
principles and instructions which should govern
Christians when they are oppressed
[These principles are just as applicable today when we are
oppressed by others. They include...]
I. DON’T RESIST
A. SUCH WAS THE BEHAVIOR OF THOSE BEING OPPRESSED IN JAMES’
1. Notice Ja 5:4,6
2. Though treated unjustly, they did not resist
B. NOT RESISTING IS CONSISTENT WITH OTHER SCRIPTURES…
1. Consider Lk 6:27-30
2. Also Ro 12:19-21
3. And 1 Pe 2:18-23
C. ADMITTEDLY, THIS IS CONTRARY TO HUMAN NATURE AND
1. Human nature moves one to react in “justifiable anger”
2. Human wisdom calls for “standing up for one’s rights”
D. BUT NOT RESISTING IS BASED UPON TWO THINGS…
1. An awareness that the Lord is coming to judge – Ja
a. The coming of the Lord in this passage may have reference
to His coming in judgment
upon Jerusalem (as foretold by Jesus in Lk 21 and
which occurred when Rome
destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70)
b. But it may also refer to the Lord’s final coming on the
Day of Judgment yet to occur
c. Likewise, we can look for the coming of the Lord in
judgment in various ways (death,
the second coming, etc.)
2. A willingness to let Him be our avenger – cf. Lk
[It is not easy to keep one’s self from resisting, and to
wait for the Lord to take care of it. That’s why
there is a need for the next principle...]
II. BE PATIENT
A. THE WORD FOUND HERE IS SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT THAN THAT FOUND
EARLIER IN THIS EPISTLE…
1. In Ja 1:3, the word is “hupomone”
a. Which means to bear up under trials
b. Which normally means to be patient in reference to things
2. In Ja 5:7-8,10, the word is “makrothumia”
a. Which means to suffer long
b. Which normally means to be patient in reference to people
c. As Vincent defines it:
1) A patient holding out under trial; a long-protracted
restraint of the soul from yielding
to passion, especially the passion of anger
2) The thought links itself naturally with that in the
preceding verse: “the righteous does
B. THREE EXAMPLES ARE GIVEN TO ENCOURAGE US TO BE PATIENT…
1. The farmer – Ja 5:7
2. The prophets – Ja 5:10
3. Job – Ja 5:11
C. EACH OF THESE EXAMPLES TEACH US…
1. To place our trust in the Lord, that He will eventually
reward us for our trust in Him
2. To be steadfast, in the meantime, in our service to Him
[But such patience or long-suffering is not easily acquired.
Therefore, there is a need to apply the third
principle in this passage...]
III.ESTABLISH YOUR HEARTS
A. THE WORD “ESTABLISH”…
1. Means “to fix, make fast, to set” (Vine)
2. Is translated “strengthen” in other places
3. To establish one’s heart, then…
a. Involves strengthening our heart in a certain way
b. Here, it means to strengthen our heart so as to be
patient and not resist evil being done
B. THE KEY TO ESTABLISHING OUR HEARTS…
1. Is the Word of God – cf. 2 Pe 1:12
2. Through constant and careful study of God’s Word…
a. Our faith in God and His eventual justice is made
b. Patience and strength to not resist is developed – cf. Ro
[With hearts rooted and established in God’s Word, we are
more likely to act as we should when
oppressed. But there are some things we are likely to do
when under stress due to unjust oppression.
James goes on to mention two that we are to avoid. The first
of these is...]
IV. DON’T GRUMBLE
A. ESPECIALLY AGAINST ONE ANOTHER… (9)
1. When others oppress us, we are likely to vent our
frustrations as those closest and dearest
2. For example, a man after a bad day at work often takes it
out on his wife and family
3. So brethren are likely to direct their frustration
towards each other when being oppressed
B. WE HAVE GOOD REASON NOT TO GRUMBLE…
1. “lest you be condemned”
2. The sin of grumbling is a serious one – cf. 1 Co
3. The same Lord who will judge those who oppress others
will judge those who murmur and
[So don’t let the oppression of others cause us to be
condemned by our mistreatment of our brethren.
Another warning is given...]
V. DON’T SWEAR
A. THIS IS SOMETHING ELSE ONE IS LIKELY TO DO WHEN IN
1. In other words, make rash promises
2. Promises which God will hold you to, even if not serious
- cf. Ecc 5:1-7
B. THIS PROHIBITION APPLIES ESPECIALLY TO “FLIPPANT
1. In Jesus’ day, many Jews were prone to swear in this
2. Where they made a distinction between oaths using God’s
name and other oaths (those
using His name were considered binding, while the others
3. Both Jesus and James condemn this distinction between
different kinds of oaths – cf. Mt 5:
[The solution is to refrain from oaths altogether, and stand
by your word. Finally, in times of
oppression, those who are God’s children have a powerful
weapon in their arsenal. To utilize it, they
A. THIS IS THE KEY THING TO DO WHEN OPPRESSED…
1. As we learn from Ja 5:13
2. This is what the Christians of James’ day were doing -
cf. Ja 5:4
B. WHEN WE PRAY, GOD HEARS…!
1. As seen in Ja 5:4
2. As promised by both Jesus and James, the Lord will avenge
His righteous ones – Lk 18:
7-8; Ja 5:7-8
3. It may not come when we want it, and the Lord may “bear
long with us” – cf. Re 6:9-11
4. But when the time is ripe, the oppressed will be avenged!
1. Therefore, when we are being oppressed…
a. Don’t resist
b. Be patient!
c. Establish your hearts!
d. Don’t grumble
e. Don’t swear
2. When we react this way to oppression…
a. We follow the example of Christ and the early disciples
b. Who committed themselves to God who judges righteously
1) Christ – 1 Pe 2:23
2) The disciples – 1 Pe 4:19
3. With such a righteous God on our side, it should be a lot
easier to endure those who oppress us!
Is the righteous God on your side? Or rather, are you on His
A Call To Prayer And Praise
1. As is common in many of the New Testament epistles, we
find various commands and exhortations
as we draw near to the end of the epistle of James
2. In Ja 5:13-18, we find a call to pray and sing
praises, with guidance as to what to do and when
I. IN TIMES OF SUFFERING, LET US PRAY (13)
A. WHAT KIND OF SUFFERING DOES JAMES REFER TO…?
1. The word used refers to suffering of any kind
2. Such as sickness, bereavement, disappointment, persecutions,
loss of health or property
3. Later, James will deal specifically with sickness
B. FOR WHAT SHOULD WE PRAY…?
1. For removal of the suffering, if it be the Lord’s
will – cf. Paul in 2 Co 12:8
2. For strength to endure the suffering, if it be the
Lord’s will that we bear it – cf. 1 Co 10:13
a. God may not always remove the source of our suffering,
for it may be for our ultimate
good – cf. Psa 119:67,71,75
b. But at least He promises to help us endure it!
C. FOR WHOM SHOULD WE PRAY…?
1. Certainly for ourselves, as implied above
2. But also for those who may be the source of our suffering
a. As Jesus taught in Lk 6:28
b. Doing this can help greatly to endure the suffering
[So in times of suffering, let us pray! It is a wonderful
privilege to pray, and a great source of comfort
when afflicted. Next, we learn from James that...]
II. IN TIMES OF CHEER, LET US SING PRAISES (13)
A. THE WORD “CHEERFUL”…
1. Denotes pleasantness, agreeableness
2. It suggests a state of mind free from trouble — the
opposite of affliction — happy!
B. IN SUCH A STATE OF HAPPINESS, ONE SHOULD SING PRAISES…!
1. For singing praises is becoming of God’s people
a. Consider the attitude of David, the sweet singer of
Israel – Psa 92:1-2; 96:1-2; 101:1;
111:1; 113:1-3; 146:1-2; 147:1; 149:1
b. David was a man after God’s own heart, shouldn’t we be
2. For singing praises has the power to make good situations
better – cf. Ep 5:18; Co 3:16
C. WHY DON’T SOME CHRISTIANS SING PRAISES MORE OFTEN, MORE
1. Are they that “afflicted”?
2. Hasn’t God done enough in our lives to prompt us to
praise Him fervently in song?
3. What excuse can we possibly give for refusing to praise
God for His glory and goodness?
a. We cannot use the excuse that we cannot sing
b. God “commands” all to sing, and unless we are “mute” the
command applies to us
c. Fortunately, God is not concerned with how it sounds, but
that it is coming from the
heart, therefore all who can speak can and should sing!
4. Heaven is described by John in the Book of Revelation as
a place where singing praises to
God and Christ is an ongoing activity
a. If we don’t sing praises to God on earth, though able…
b. Can we really expect to be allowed to praise God in
[Singing praises to God is just as important as praying to
God! Perhaps our prayers would be
answered more often, if we would praise God more often! The
rest of our text deals with prayer as it
applies to a special need...]
III.IN TIMES OF SICKNESS, LET US PRAY (14-18)
A. ADMITTEDLY, THIS PASSAGE IS DIFFICULT…
1. Questions abound concerning it
a. Is the sickness physical or spiritual?
b. Is the anointing with oil medicinal or symbolic?
c. Is the healing through providential means or miraculous?
d. Is the healing spiritual or physical?
2. First, I believe the sickness and healing in this passage
is physical, though spiritual needs are
taken into consideration
a. This is in view of the phrase “and if he has
committed sins, he will be forgiven”
b. This implies the sickness is physical, though it may be
accompanied with spiritual
sickness as well
c. But the conditional “if” makes it clear that the
illness may not be accompanied by sin,
which if true, would mean the illness is not spiritual, but
3. With the assumption that physical illness is being
discussed, then there are two feasible
a. This passage refers to miraculous healing
1) The elders were called because they possessed the gift of
2) The anointing with oil was symbolic, representing the
influences of the Holy Spirit
- cf. Mk 6:13
3) The healing was miraculous
b. This passage refers to providential healing
1) The elders were called because they were likely the most
righteous in a
congregation – cf. Ja 5:16
2) The anointing with oil was medicinal, as was commonly
practiced in those days – cf.
3) The healing was providential
4. I lean toward the latter explanation…
a. The first explanation must assume that the elders in
every church possessed the gift of
healing, which is not likely for two reasons:
1) We have no record of such in the New Testament
2) The qualifications for elders did not require this gift -
cf. 1 Ti 3:1-7; Ti 1:5-9
b. In illustrating the efficacy of prayer, James uses an example
of God providentially
answering prayer – cf. 1 Kin 18:41-45
1) God was indeed answering Elijah’s prayer
2) But God did so, providentially, working through natural
B. WITH THIS UNDERSTANDING, LET’S MAKE THE APPLICATION…
1. In times of physical sickness, call for the elders of the
a. You want the prayers of the “righteous” working in your
behalf, don’t you?
b. Notice: You are to call for them, not wait for them to
call on you!
c. Have the elders pray with you…
1) In faith (trusting in the Lord’s power to heal, if
it be His will)
2) With fervor (“the effective, fervent prayer of a
righteous man avails much.”)
2. Elders should not only pray, but see that appropriate
medical aids are provided
a. In a century where hospitals were nonexistent, and
physicians rare, anointing with oil
was a common treatment – cf. Lk 10:34
b. Today, this would involve the elders making sure the sick
receive the treatment needed
3. The sick should also confess their sins, if they have
a. Verse 15 makes it clear that sickness is not
always the consequence of sin
b. But verse 16 and others (like 1 Co 11:29-32)
suggests that illness may be God’s
loving chastisement for sin, in an effort to direct us back
c. In any case, sins need to be confessed and forgiveness
sought if we hope to have God
hear our prayers
1. However one interprets Ja 5:14-16, there is no
dispute over the main thrust in this passage…
a. Prayer and praise are very special privileges for the
b. There is not a time in our life when we shouldn’t be
doing one or the other
c. We must be careful not to underestimate:
1) The importance of praise
2) The power of prayer
2. But to truly benefit from these two spiritual exercises,
we must be in a right relationship with God…
a. Which involves being open to God’s Word – Pro 28:9
b. And being a doer of God’s will – Mt 7:21
Restoring Straying Saints
1. As James comes to the close of his epistle, he stresses
the importance of restoring those who
wander from the truth – Ja 5:19-20
2. Restoring straying saints is a responsibility given to all
who are truly the children of God – cf. Ga 6:
1-2; 1 Th 5:14
3. Yet, it is a responsibility that is so easy to neglect,
and in most cases is neglected!
4. The purpose of this lesson is twofold…
a. To impress upon our minds the importance of engaging in
this work of restoring straying saints
b. To suggest how we should carry out this important work
[To appreciate the grave importance of restoring saints who
have strayed, consider this question:
“What is the condition of those who have wandered from the
I. THE CONDITION OF SAINTS WHO HAVE STRAYED FROM THE TRUTH
A. AS DEFINED BY JAMES IN OUR TEXT…
1. They are in danger of death! – Ja 5:20
2. One who has wandered from the truth has also wandered
from the from the source of
forgiveness – cf. 1 Jn 1:6-7
3. Separated from the blood of Christ to cleanse him of his
sins, he is in danger of suffering the
consequences of sin: (spiritual) death! – cf. Ro 6:23
B. AS DEPICTED BY PETER…
1. “the latter end is worse for them than the beginning” -
cf. 2 Pe 2:20-22
2. That such a person is in danger of more serious
punishment is stressed in Lk 12:47-48
C. AS DESCRIBED IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS (He
1. “there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” – the
blood of Christ is no longer available for
him in this state!
2. “but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery
indignation” – all that remains is to
be eternally lost in hell!
3. “much worse punishment…will he be thought worthy” -
because such a person is trampling
underfoot the Son of God, counting the blood of Jesus which
had sanctified him a common
thing, and is insulting the Spirit of grace!
4. “the LORD will judge His people” – for those who despise
His mercy, they will face His
D. AS DECLARED BY JESUS HIMSELF…
1. Such will be removed from His presence! – cf. Re 2:4-5
2. He will expel such from His presence! – cf. Re 3:15-16
[When we truly understand the spiritual condition of our
friends and loved ones who have strayed from
the truth, it should move us to do something! But how shall
we carry out this responsibility?]
II. RESTORING STRAYING SAINTS
A. IT REQUIRES SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES…
1. People who are spiritual – Ga 6:1
a. Those who are producing the fruit of the Spirit in their
own lives – cf. Ga 5:22-23
b. Unqualified personnel need not apply for this work
1) They might best work on themselves first – Mt 7:3-4
2) Then they can help others – Mt 7:5
2. A spirit of gentleness – Ga 6:1
a. We are engaged in delicate “soul surgery”
b. This is not the time to misuse the “sword of the Spirit”!
3. A constant sense of self-examination – Ga 6:1
a. If we are not careful, we can easily fall into the same
b. As many do when they counsel those with marital problems
without proper supervision
4. A willingness to bear one another’s burdens – Ga 6:2
a. Which involves an expense of time and energy to help the
weak to overcome their faults
b. Our responsibility is not fulfilled by simply pointing
out our brother’s faults!
a. This is implied in Ga 6:3
b. It is stated outright in 2 Ti 2:24-26
c. People will not accept correction or advice coming from
an arrogant person!
d. In many cases, we may need to confess our own sin of
negligence first! (for not coming
6. Ample knowledge of God’s Word – 2 Ti 2:24
a. We must be able to teach and apply God’s Word to the
b. It is important they respond to God’s word, and not just
to our views or opinions!
7. Patience (longsuffering) – 2 Ti 2:24
a. The same kind that we receive from God for our faults
b. The same kind that Paul showed towards the church at
Corinth – cf. 2 Co 1:23-2:3
c. If repentance is not forthcoming, we can wait for only so
long – cf. 2 Co 13:1-2
8. A sincere demonstration of love
a. Both at the time of rebuke – cf. 2 Co 2:4
b. And at the time of repentance – cf. 2 Co 2:6-8
B. IT REQUIRES THE PROPER PROCEDURE…
1. The wrong procedures:
a. Running around and talking to everyone but the person who
needs to be corrected and
b. Preaching about these people from the pulpit at the very
c. Bringing it up at congregational business meetings at the
2. The proper procedure is outlined by Jesus in Mt
a. Even though the sin may not be against you personally…
1) This is still a good way to avoid misunderstanding
2) This is still more likely to succeed
1) Go to the person first
2) Then take others, if necessary
3) Then tell it to the church, if necessary
4) If he won’t hear the church, withdraw any association
that might appear to give
approval to their behavior – cf. 1 Co 5:1-13; 2 Th
3:6-15; Ro 16:17
1. The work of restoring or correcting saints may be
unpleasant at times, but it has the potential for
a. Both in heaven – cf. Lk 15:7
b. And in our hearts – cf. 3 Jn 4
2. It comes down to this…
a. Do we really love God?
b. Do we really love our straying brethren?
c. Read 1 Jn 3:16-19, and substitute “spiritual
goods” for “world’s goods” to answer our question
Brethren, let us love one another!