This chapter is full of so much in just 20 verses! James goes from speaking on self-confidence in chapter 4:13-17, straight into addressing those who are rich. Meaning that the context is surrounding those who had (have) put all of their hope and trust in money, which drove them to evil. As Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:10 (NLT), “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” Those who trust in money, who crave money, more than God have set themselves on a path of destruction. It always amazes me how “believers” seem to ignore all of the times that Jesus and His disciples address the dangers of riches and money, simply because they believe that God wants them to be prosperous with wealth. (That’s a topic for a different time though).
James then goes into talking about patience and endurance, which is also powerful and insightful! But what I want to focus on is the emphasis James puts on prayer.
“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.” – James 5:13-15 (NLT)
Wow! Tell me that isn’t awesome! Prayer for the sick. Imagine if this basic principle of Christianity had been practiced over the course of the last 2 years. Prayers offered in faith, rather than fear driving the Church deep into a lack of faith. COVID exposed the deep rooted lack of faith in the Body of Christ, and sadly it seems to only be growing deeper in most that claim to be part of the Body. Do we actually believe what we say we believe? Or do we merely speak words that carry no power in our lives? Do we actually believe that the God we serve has the power to heal, or are we worse off than the man with leprosy (Matthew 8)?
“I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” – Matthew 17:20 (NLT)
“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” – James 5:16 (NLT)