Love Covers (James 5:9-20)
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James 5:9-20 (Pastor Brian)
9 Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 10 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. 12 Above all, my brothers, do not swear–not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.
The Prayer of Faith
13 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. 19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
Last week, we saw the first 8 verses of James 5 where he wrote a blistering condemnation of those who use money for their own selfish gain – covetousness, building up meaningless wealth, etc…
Following this he wrote to the rest of the Christians who were scattered abroad. They are exhorted to be patient and know that the Lord is coming “soon”. ( “Soon”? – that was 2,000 years ago… but don’t forget in 1/2 Peter “a day with the Lord is a thousand years” so “technically” it’s only been two DAYS…)
Just remember, always the Lord is at hand – ready to return. We have the ability and privilege to praise him.
And don’t forget that the Lord will render to us according to our works.
James 5:7-8 = “be patient” until the coming of the Lord like the farmer is patient waiting for his harvest.
Remember from last time the Psalmist Asaph? He was envious of the wicked as they didn’t seem to receive the same punishment for their sins that normal people would. Yet, he didn’t want to share that with the people of the congregation or they might stumble. But, then he went into the sanctuary and saw “their end” which was completely wasted when they died.
So James exhorts us to be patient.
The harvest doesn’t come straight away, but eventually, it DOES come.
Also, James says, “don’t grumble, don’t complain.” The problem with patience, you see, is that it doesn’t come naturally to those of us who are impatient. If we listen to ourselves truly, we may say, “I’m waiting” but truly we are grumbling. “They are too fast/slow/dumb/pig-headed…” James says, “no no”.
James 4:11-12 “Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against his brother speaks against the Law and judges the Law. This makes you no longer a DOER of the Law but a judge of it. There is only ONE Judge, and it isn’t you. Who are you to judge your neighbor?”
- “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul. But rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
- “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs
This isn’t a phobia (spiders = arachnophobia). The “fear of the Lord” = a healthy reverence for the Lord, awe of the Lord.
Like when we raise our children, we teach them things to keep them out of danger. Look both ways when you cross the road. This is a healthy kind of fear – it’s common sense.
Yet, many people don’t even have this kind of “common sense” fear of the Lord and they don’t walk in wisdom.
Don’t pray for patience… or you just might get it. (loads of troubles, struggles, etc to MAKE you patient) – this isn’t necessarily totally true, HOWEVER, once we accept Jesus as Savior, we ARE living in “enemy territory.” The world lies in the lap of Satan.
But nevertheless, “count it all joy whenever you encounter various trials and struggles…” (James) Pray that you’ll grow in patience and grace. Whether we pray for it or not, Lord knows we NEED it. We ought also to pray for wisdom. The wisdom that comes from above is peaceloving, generous, etc.
“Patience is a virtue. Possess it if you can. Seldom in a woman. Never in a man.” (– Irish? proverb)
Look at the prophets as an example of patient suffering. Good thing they didn’t just keep “waiting” for it, but they spoke boldly before kings and rulers and put them right by speaking the word of the Lord before them.
- Those who listened, were blessed.
- Those who didn’t, were often not long on the throne – replaced, invaded, etc.
Remember Stephen, he just spoke it out (Acts 7:52) “Which one of the prophets did your fathers NOT persecute?” Those guys (the Sanhedrin) used to boast of their lineage as God’s “chosen people.” But Stephen was pointing out the truth to them – and they stoned him – yet he was emulating the spirit of Christ when he said, “Lord, don’t lay this sin to their charge…(forgive them).”
All throughout the Bible, we see men and women of God who SUFFERED. And yet, they were faithful, and God was faithful to them. As they endured, God was compassionate and merciful to them.
Probably no greater example of suffering besides Christ himself, but about Job:
He had EVERYTHING a man could want, 10 grown kids and grandkids, riches, loads of servants, etc.
But… one day (in the SAME day) – everything was stolen, killed, burned, destroyed – even his own children were ALL killed instantly by a tornado.
Oh yeah, and THEN he got painful boils covering over his whole body…
And what was his response? Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell to the ground and worshiped, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away…”
If you go outside and see the sign outside it says “nude” – naked – remember as you go in and out that you brought nothing and shall take nothing.
Satan got mad that Job didn’t curse God.
The book of Job is kind of a contest between God and Satan – Satan came into God’s presence at one point (God allowed it) and said, “Well, of course Job loves you, you’ve blessed him immeasurably…”
- his wealth
- his health
Inflamed, ulcerous, itching sores, insomnia, worms, hardened, running sick, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, putrid (stinky) breath (no breath mints…), unending internal pain, fever, blackened skin. Wow. Sounds like some really bad medicinal side effects.
Anyone else would have (should have?) cursed God. Even his own wife said, “Come on man, curse God and just die!”
But he was a righteous man – he blessed others, prayed for his family – and he was trying to figure out why these things were happening.
Then Elihu (who observed the whole thing until around chapter 37) says, “I’ve heard all of this, but listen Job, you’ve been justifying yourself by your own righteousness. Humble yourself and trust only in God for your salvation.”
When Job humbled himself, God reversed (and doubled) all that he’d previously had.
But Job had to go through that suffering in order to LEARN those lessons (he couldn’t just be TOLD those things – he had to EXPERIENCE them).
James goes on to say, “Do not swear. Do not make oaths.”
There are times when we may release oaths from our mouths that we may later regret, “I swear I’ll kill/never forgive… that person….”
But that kind of thing brings judgment upon us, and we need to repent of them and ask for a better spirit/attitude toward events and people.
Matthew 5:33-37 “Again you have heard that the ancients have said, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ But I say, make NO vows, not by heaven, nor earth, nor Jerusalem, nor by your head (which are all owned by God), for you cannot make even one hair white nor black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes’ yes, and ‘No’ no. Anything beyond this is evil.”
Yes and No is enough.
Prayer for the sick:
- We aren’t always called to endure suffering for as long as Job was. There are some that the Lord would be more glorified through by healing than by our perseverance.
- We can pray about this – call for the elders of the church. (Ask, seek, knock)
Because we live in a fallen world, there are times when we’ll become sick. If anyone IS sick, let them pray for him, anointing with oil.
Depending on your church background denomination, this is still a common practice in places. God is often glorified and faithful when we pray earnestly for our sickness.
James also says, “Confess your faults one to another that you may be healed.”
There are different causes for sin:
- World – outside influence
- Flesh – internal bitterness, unforgiveness, temptation, etc.
Sometimes, our spiritual illnesses are reflected in a physical way. Sometimes when a person repents of their sin, they become physically healed. (Not ALL the time, but this is often the case). God brings healing to spirit, soul, and body when we humble ourselves, confess, repent, and turn from those things.
This kind of humility is remarkable and God answers it in a remarkable way – with healing of one kind or another.
Don’t just confess to anyone – but think of someone who will have compassion on you and encourage you. Recognize as well that “we all sin in many ways.”
Also, remember the prophet Elijah – “the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much…”
When you read through 1/2 Kings, we can see that Elijah had times of great faith and times of failure. He had times of selflessness and times of selfishness. He was a man like us, but when he prayed that rain would not fall on the land for 3.5 years and then prayed again later that it would rain, God heard his prayer.
Elijah himself was NOT powerful, but he had faith in the God who IS powerful.
God honored his servant by answering his prayer.
James speaks about being aware/concerned for the lives of others. When we pray for others, those who have strayed from the truth ( “prone to wander, Lord I feel it…” ) and turn them back to the faith, that will cover over a multitude of sins.
When God forgives, he forgets (He removes your sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalms)). He COULD remember, but he CHOOSES not to.
Struggling with lack of receiving forgiveness?
“God’s non-remembrance of sin”
Well worth the effort to read it.
Quotes 4 Scriptures – God gives 4 witnesses in Scripture:
- Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am he that blots out your transgressions for my own sake and will not remember your sins.”
- Jeremiah 31:34 “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin NO MORE.”
- (Let those words NO MORE echo in the chambers of your heart and get its point across)
- Hebrews 8:12 “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities I will remember NO MORE.” (Satan would omit that NO MORE)
- Hebrews 10:17 “And their sins I will remember NO MORE.”
When we counsel someone to come back to the Lord, we don’t remind them of their sins, but remind them of these verses that God would remember their sins NO MORE.
This is a good place to conclude today’s sermon and the Book of James.