SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- This chapter addresses the conflict between the rich and the poor. The wealthy were being very selfish and insensitive: they were living an indulgent and luxurious lifestyle while cheating their employees out of fair wages. James warns them to change their ways. The problem wasn't the money itself but how they were using it. The poor, on the other hand, were angry and frustrated for how they were being treated, so they began grumbling and complaining about their plight. James reminds them to be patient in their suffering and persevere like Job did. (You can read all about Job in the book of the Bible named after him.) James also warns them not to judge their wealthy brother or they will be judged harshly too.
- James reminds us that Jesus is coming back and, when he does, all suffering will end (verse 8). Once again, this was a reminder to the oppressed to be patient.
- The final section of James is all about prayer. We are reminded to pray in all circumstances, both good and bad. We are also encouraged to pray for one another.
- James mentions a prophet by the name of Elijah. His story can be found in 1 Kings, chapters 17 and 18. Elijah had great faith and was rewarded with answered prayer. The Bible makes it clear that answered prayer is possible for anyone who believes, not just pastors or prophets.
- The book of James closes with an encouraging reminder that the greatest gift we can give someone is help finding Jesus.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- The Bible teaches that what we have comes from God. For those who have received more than they need, it is their responsibility to share God's blessings. The money God gives is never meant to be wasted on self indulgence (as mentioned in verse 5).
- For those who have not received as much as they hoped, do not be bitter or envious. God will always provide. Pursue patience and perseverance. God has not forgotten about you or what you are going through.
- The response to whatever is happening in our lives should always be prayer (see verses 13-18). Prayer is the best way to pursue God and express our faith that he will provide. At Verve, we refer to people who pray as "God Stalkers."
- Sharing our faith with people is the most important thing we can do. It can save someone from being apart from God for all eternity.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Did you know that, if you make $34,000 or more a year, you are in the top 1% of all the wealth in the world? Did you know if you own a car you are in the top 10% of the wealth in the world? That means most Americans are rich! Are you being faithful with the extra God has given you? Are you using your money wisely? Are you giving back generously to him? Do you look for opportunities to give even more to people in need?
- If you read this and you are struggling financially, are you blaming God for it? Are you jealous of your friends who have more? Do you grumble about life not being fair? The Bible says this attitude is not OK. Give your worries to God and allow him to give you peace and patience with what you are going through.
- Is life going well for you? Take time to thank God for his blessings. Are you going through a rough patch? Take time to ask God for help.
- Is there someone you've been wanting to share Jesus with and just haven't taken the time? Stop procrastinating and speak to them today.