In the previous verses in this chapter we received warnings concerning our attitude toward wealth or prosperity and our attitude toward affliction. James tells us to keep the right perspective on both of these areas. Now he turns his attention toward the positive. In the closing verses of this chapter he encourages the believers with a prescription for a blessed Christian life. It is possible for us to be happy even in the midst of trials and testings. James gives us some practical advice as to how we should respond to the various circumstances that we might find ourselves.
I. Be a Person of Your Word. v12
A. "…My brethren, swear not…"
1. Scripture puts swearing and cursing right at the top of the list of its prohibitions.
2. We are not to swear and curse. Why?
B. Why would Scripture place swearing and cursing at the top of the things not do?
1. Because swearing and cursing is either taking God's name in vain or else showing man's worthlessness.
2. A man's word is a reflection of himself.
a. He is either true or false.
b. He is either trustworthy or undependable.
c. If his word is untrue, he has lost his trustfulness and worth.
d. There should, therefore, be no need for oaths.
e. His word should stand alone, sure and factual.
3. There should be no need for a man's word to be reinforced, for a man's word not to be taken at face value.
4. When it does not, and he curses or swears, he shows a heart that is disturbed, lacking, or evil.
C. "Let your yea be yea and your nay, nay."
1. Say what you mean, and do what you say.
2. It is so simple isn't it?
3. When we are no honest…we have to try to impress others by swearing.
4. That ought not to be in the life of a believer.
5. Paul admonishes us to, 'Speak the truth in love.' Cf. Ep. 4:15
II. Be a Person of Prayer and Praise. v13
A. Prayer is our lifeline during trials.
1. The little child is fine until they fall and scrape their knee.
2. Then without hesitation they cry out for Mommy.
3. We are no different, when we find ourselves in the midst of trials and afflictions; our first call should be to God.
4. He is the One who loves us, the One who can make it all better!
(Mat 7:7) "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:"
B. Praise is the natural response from a grateful heart.
1. Singing and praising is the outward expression of the inward condition of the soul.
2. If God has been good to us, then we ought to praise Him.
3. I wonder about believers who never have anything good to say about the Lord.
4. When God saved me, He put a song in my heart…He did something in my life that I want others to know about!
(Psa 34:1b) "…I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth."
III. Be a Person of Faith v14-15
A. 'Is any sick among you?'
1. Certainly when a person is sick we should pray for them.
2. We are instructed elsewhere in the Scripture to pray or intercede on behalf of others.
3. But this sickness is not just a cold, or even a cancer…
4. James is dealing with sickness that is the result of God's chastisement for sin.
B. 'Call for the elders of the church'
1. This points to the need of the local church to minister to its people.
2. 'Elders' = not always a reference to the pastor, but implies an older, more mature Christian in the church.
3. These may or may not be the deacons.
4. It isn't so much what position they might hold, but their spiritual walk with God.
5. Because there is a spiritual problem that needs to be addressed.
C. Prayer and anointing.
1. Note v 15 'The prayer of faith…'
2. As the elders pray for the individual and anoint them with oil…the goal is not so much physical healing as it is spiritual healing.
3. Oil is symbolic in the Scriptures.
a. It is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, of His presence.
b. Oil is also a symbol of God's care, comfort, and joy, and of His mercy to us.
c. The oil focuses the attention and stirs the sick to believe in God's will to be merciful and His desire to fill the believer's heart with gladness.
IV. Be a Person of Righteousness. v16-18
A. Righteousness = Doing Right
1. This has been an underlying theme throughout this book.
2. We are to be people of action and we are to do that which is right!
3. What does that mean?
B. Confession and prayer.
1. We are to confess or to acknowledge our faults.
2. We are to do this to one another…why?
3. Because we want to avoid the God's hand of chastening upon us.
4. If we live in such a way that we admit and understand our own weaknesses, we can find encouragement and help from one another.
5. We are to pray for one another that we be healed (or to be made whole or complete).
C. Power in prayer.
1. Doesn't come from the length of our prayers.
2. Doesn't come from the particular words that we use.
3. Power in prayer comes from a righteous walk before God.
4. James uses Elijah as an example.
a. He prayed and the rain was withheld.
b. He prayed again and the rain came.
c. Why? Because of His walk with God.
V. Be a Person of Compassion.
A. We are not talking about evangelism.
1. Certainly we should do all we can to see the lost come to Christ.
2. We should pray and witness that others might be saved.
3. But that isn't what James is talking about here.
4. Remember that he is addressing believers, not lost people.
5. 'Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth'
a. The word 'err' means to wander or go astray.
b. Now what are we wandering away from? The Truth!
c. James is talking about dealing with one who is backslidden in the faith.
d. They have allowed themselves to wander away from the paths of righteousness.
e. They need to be turned back!
B. James is talking about restoration not redemption.
1. What is our responsibility toward a brother who begins to backslide?
2. We are to go to them and 'convert' them.
3. 'Convert' = turn back or to get them back to where they used to be.
(Gal 6:1) "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
C. The consequences are serious.
1. To fail to intervene will lead to a person continuing down the wrong path.
2. More and more sins will be committed.
3. It may even get to the point where God kills the erring brother because of his sinful walk.
(1 John 5:16b) "…There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it."
(1 Cor 11:30) "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep."
4. That is why it is so important that we be people of compassion.
5. Realizing that we may be the person God chooses to use to turn an erring brother around.
6. We may be the one God chooses to use to get someone back on track and save them from the awful consequences of continued sin.
We all want God's blessings upon our lives. James gives the prescription for a life of blessing.
Do we need to recommit ourselves to being the kind of person that God would have us to be? Come right now, and do business with God.