Part 11: The Study of James — James 5:12–18
As believers we must be truthful in our communication. A persons speech reveals his spiritual maturity.
In verse 12, the sin of swearing is condemned.
As Jesus did before him, James condemned the contemporary Jewish practice of swearing false, evasive, deceptive oaths by everything other than the name of the Lord. — John Macarthur
Matthew 5:33–37 says, “You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the lord.’ 34 But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. 35 And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. 36 Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. 37 Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.”
IDEA: There is power in prayer and praise.
In verse 13a, James asks, “Is anyone suffering hardships?
James answers his own question with, “You should pray.”
Philippians 4:6–7 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
We experience God’s power and peace as we pray through hardships, rather than worry through hardships.
In verse 13b, James asks a second question. “Is anyone happy?”
Once again, James answers his own question with, “You should sing praises.”
Colossians 3:16–17 says, “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
Psalms is a Book of Songs. I encourage you to read through the Psalms. Allow God’s Word to encourage you in the sad times as well as happy times.
In verse 14, James asks a final question. Does anyone have poor health?
James answers with encouraging Christ-followers to call on the Elders of the Church.
Elders is one office of the church. These are the man that have been entrusted to be under-shepherds or overseers of Jesus’ church.
Read 1 Timothy 3 for the qualifications of an elder.
James says that the elders are to anoint those who are sick with oil. Oil symbolizes both divine blessing and healing. Oil was both a medicine as found in Luke 10 and a symbol of the Spirit of God as used to anoint kings in 1 Samuel 16 for one example.
In verse 15a, James says, “prayer offered in faith.”
My mentor in high school would pray for God to do something so supernatural that only He would receive the glory. I believe this is a prayer offered in faith. First, we must understand the access that we have to the Father because of Jesus.
Ephesians 3:12 says, “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.”
Secondly, we must come to the place of complete dependence upon the Lord. If we could do something on our own strength why would we need the Lord. We do not have the power to heal, but we have the access to the Healer.
Hebrews 11:6 says, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”
James suggests in the latter part of verse 15 that some illnesses might be caused by sin and it is important that we turn from sin.
Watch the story of Michel Guglielmucci below.
Christ has made it possible for us to go directly to God. Confessing our sins to each other still has an important place in the life of the church as found in verse 16.
1. If you have sinned against an individual, you must ask him or her to forgive you.
Matthew 5:23–24 says, “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”
2. If you need loving support as you struggle with a sin, you should confess that sin to those who are able to provide that support.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
Find encouragement and accountability within a Small Group. Sign up for a small group here.
In verse 16b, James reminds the recipients of this letter that there is power in prayer and that prayer produces wonderful results.
By 1870 George Muller was overseeing 5 large orphan houses with nearly 2000 orphans occupying them in England. By prayer alone he provided the food, clothing, housing, and schooling for these children whose parents had died.
In verses 17–18, James closes this section with the story of Elijah. Read 1 Kings 17–18 for the full story.
Elijah is made of three root words. My God is Jehovah.
Elijah was a powerful prophet in Israel, proclaimed a drought, was fed by ravens, and performed a miracle for a widow.
There were 19 consecutive evil. According to 1 Kings 16:30, King Ahab did more evil in the eyes of God than any prior king.
God said enough! He didn’t raise an army, but rather one man!
God tells Elijah to go to King Ahab and let him know that rain is coming. Elijah runs into Obadiah who was a devoted follower of God. Obadiah tells Elijah that Ahab wants to kill him, but Elijah continues on anyways.
Elijah was as human as we are. We have the same access as Elijah had. We have the same power within as Elijah did. We can have the same faith in God as Elijah did. Do you?
by Tim O'Carroll
Is there anyone that you have sinned against?
Have you signed up for a small group?