James chapter five offers solid counsel for the faith life. Maybe not easy advice to put into practice, but worth the effort. He tackles topics still relevant today: fiances, suffering, and health.
Take time to reflect on your prayer requests. Odds are many surround those very topics either for yourself or for those you know.
He issues a strong warning to the rich in verses 5-6, not condemning those who have money, but what they have decided to do with their money. James is talking about people who’ve swindled their workers, given them unfair wages, they’re greedy, and lived in luxury while not giving thoughts to those around them.
I openly admit reading this and thinking, “Yeah, rich people who don’t share what they have totally deserve punishment.” But, then I’m reminded that even America’s poorest 20% are wealthier than a large portion of other countries around the world.
We’re not here to debate why, the social and political issues surrounding that fact, but I do want to point out how we handle our money matters. We are accountable, and James reminds us of that. All we have belongs to God, and we should give back as we are able.
After tackling finances, James moves on to suffering. His words are inspiring and motivating. “Be patient,” he says in verse seven. We see words like “steadfast” and “established” giving this image of holding on because what’s coming–the Lord–is better. He’s worth any suffering we may endure.
It’s worth noting that James moves into health after talking about patience in suffering. Many health problems we face require patience. Whether it’s dealing with a series of doctor appointments, the red tape of insurance companies, chronic pain or cancer treatments, health problems often lead to suffering, which requires patience, and prayer. James knows this and says to pray when someone is sick. He points out the power of prayer and even links confession to healing. In a world where pills are prescribed, James says to pray.
From finances, to suffering, to health, James covers it all–all the things that still matter to us today. Though there may be no easy answers, James reminds us of the One who holds all the answers and encourages us to prayer.
Give God your finances, your suffering, and your health.