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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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james chapter 5

Faith In Action-Ill Gotten Gain

faith in action

James 5:4

 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

We have been discussing what God wants from us in regard to the wealth He may have blessed us with. Our theme previously was the idea that God does not simply want us to hoard and amass wealth for its own sake. God blesses us with riches for specific uses. If God has blessed us this way, it is because He has something He wants us to be doing with that money.

Not only does God care what we do with our money, God cares how we GET our money. Specifically, here James is speaking to those who are amassing riches by exploiting and taking advantage of those less fortunate than them. Even more specifically, he is talking about building wealth by not paying people who had done and honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.

Day labor was a very common thing during the days when James was writing this Epistle. During the busy days of farming, such as the sowing or harvesting season, it was very common for landowners to hire laborers to do the work they could not do themselves. It was also, unfortunately, common for these laborers to be cheated out of their fair wages. Here we see the reference is to the reaping or harvesting season. The point here is that this was not an issue of a landowner merely not having the cash flow to pay his workers. The funds to pay were available, as the income-producing product was right there being harvested. This was not a delay in payment or a lack of cash flow. This was a deliberate, intentional default on payment. As the text says, this payment was “kept back by fraud.”

Furthermore, God was, and is not, pleased by this type of economic gain. God has heard the cry of those who have been cheated, and judgment is coming. Their cries have been heard by “The Lord of sabaoth.” This would be the Lord of hosts, or the Lord of the armies of Heaven. In our terms, these cries would have been heard by the Supreme Commander, or Commander in Chief. In other words, they have been heard by He who has the power to do something about it. This description of supreme power is given to reinforce the thought that judgment for this activity is forthcoming, perhaps even imminent.

The lesson here could be directed towards the exploitation of the poor. This is not all God has revealed to us on this topic.

Leviticus 19:13 Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.

Deuteronomy 24:14,15 Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates: At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee.

Jeremiah 22:13 Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work;

This lesson could be on God’s general displeasure with ill-gotten gain.

Proverbs 1:19 So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.

Proverbs 10:2 Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.

There is vast relevance to this lesson today. How often do we actually consider whether or not the ways we earn our money are ways which would be pleasing to God?

Faith In Action-Who Our Wealth Belongs To

faith in action

James 5:2,3

Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

Today we will recap some thoughts on money. It only seems fair, since God puts some emphasis on the subject, that we do as well. What have we covered so far?

God does not oppose wealth; in fact, He often blesses individuals with it.

God does not oppose planning wisely for the future.

God does not expect us to socialistically redistribute our wealth to the segments of society who don’t have as much as we do.

He does expect us to use our blessings to aid others as individuals and churches.

God does oppose the useless and selfish hoarding of our wealth.

It might seem confusing, then, what God expects us to do with our wealth and riches. The answer is actually quite simple, and it has two parts.

Part one. It’s actually NOT ours; it is His. If we have it, it is only because He gave it to us and allowed us to have it.

Part two. Like our lives in general, God wants us to do one simple thing with any wealth we might have: His wishes and for His honor and glory.

God’s plan for our money is the same as His plan for our lives in general. There is no one answer, as His plan for each life is different. They key is that we simply remember that it is His, and His will concerning it is what counts.

1 Chronicles 29:3 Moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of mine own proper good, of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house,

Mark 12:42-44 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Galatians 2:10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.

2 Corinthians 9:4-14 Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

Let’s recap. It’s God’s money, not ours; we are only His stewards for it. Even though He may bless us with it for our enjoyment, it is primarily for His use: Furthering His work, winning the lost, caring for those who need caring for, and supporting the ministry of Our Lord. In short, whatever God calls you to do with it.

Faith In Action-The Useless Hoarding of Wealth

faith in action

James 5:2,3

Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. That statement, found at the very end of the passage we are looking at today, describes clearly what the problem is here that James is addressing. The main point is the hoarding of wealth. Once again, the issue is NOT the fact that wealth exists, but the useless and selfish hoarding of it.  “Wait,” readers may say; “are you trying to tell me that saving money is wrong?”

No, not at all. In fact, God’s Word is clear that setting aside money for a rainy day and the future is a good thing to do. Never is making provision for ourselves, our families and our future condemned in God’s Word. Let’s look at that.

Proverbs 21:20 There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.

Proverbs 13:11  Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.

Luke 14:28  For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it]

1 Timothy 5:8  But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Clearly, saving for the future is not a bad thing. What then is the problem?

In the days and times, this was written in, wealth was measured on some key ways. Apparel was one of them. Simply put, the wealthy could afford nicer clothing than the poor. Wealth was often measured by the quality and richness of the clothing a person wore. Additionally, money at the time was gold and silver, metals that were tenderable in and of themselves. They were not paper representations of precious metals as we use today for money.

But what was happening to these representations of wealth? Well, their garments were “moth-eaten,” and their gold and silver were “cankered,” or rusted. First, the term cankered in relation to gold and silver seems odd, since pure gold and silver neither rust or canker. When might clothes become moth-eaten or gold and silver become rusted? The answer is when they are stored, amassed, and uselessly hoarded.

If saving money is clearly ok, yet the useless hoarding of it is not, then where are we going here? What are we to be doing with our wealth once we have sufficient for ourselves? Our passage states one thing clearly when it establishes the thought that hoarding is wrong. The moth-eaten clothes and cankered metals will be “a witness against you.

So, what is the purpose of our riches and what should we be doing with them? Thoughts anyone?

 

Faith In Action-The Howling Rich

faith in action

James 5:1-6

Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.


Read James Chapter 5 here

This would be a good place for a WOW. James takes quite a turn here, seemingly taking his writing in a whole new direction. This is one of the harshest, most accusatory passages in The Bible. Here, James pulls no punches in his harsh tone towards those he is addressing in this section.

So, who is James addressing here? Well, on the surface it seems he is lashing out against the wealthy; there is, however,  more to the story than meets the eye. Is James talking to saved church members or ungodly people outside the church here? I don’t know, and it may or may not matter. Apparently, some feel that James’ harsh tone shows he is suddenly writing to unsaved rich people outside the church. Others say the tense of the verbs he uses indicate he is continuing to write to saved believers within the churches he is addressing in this Epistle. Get a good Greek dictionary and some commentaries and read them; because no matter who James is talking to, the lessons are the same.

Before we really dissect this passage in some detail, we will just quickly cover what is NOT going on in the passage.

James is not condemning wealth, per se. Money in and of itself is neutral, being neither good or bad. The Bible is full of those whom God has blessed with great wealth: Job, Abraham and Solomon all come to mind almost instantly. Many of the blessings promised to Old Testament believers were financial in nature. So, wealth in and of itself is not being condemned.

James is not a communist. He is not teaching these rich men that they should immediately redistribute their wealth so that all would be equally provided for. This passage, among others, has occasionally been used to promote this particular economic system.

So, what is the problem? Well, there is a Scripture which is often misquoted. People say often: Money is the root of all evil. Well, that is not actually what was said. What was said was the LOVE of money is the root of all evil.

What we have here is a problem of the heart and a problem of motivation. The issue is with what is driving these rich men, and the actions which result from the outflow of their hearts. Selfish desire once again rears its ugly head and produces corrupt behavior.

Doesn’t that seem to keep coming up over and over, and yet over again? Could it be that selfish desire and self-interest might the driving force behind the entire sinful condition of mankind?

Faith In Action-Don’t Swear, Pray

faith in action

James 5:13

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

It seems like there is a pretty clear linkage here between this verse and the section before. James had been talking about patience through trials; then he covered how not to react to these trials. His injunction to us was to not react to our trials and adversities by saying things we do not really mean. As God has a tendency to do, he immediately offers a solution to the problem. Cool huh? What we have here amounts to this basically: “When life gets tough, don’t say things you don’t mean and can’t back up, pray instead!”

It’s time for another language lesson very quickly, especially in light of the fact that shortly we will be talking about physical illnesses. This is important because, in the verse we are talking about, the word afflicted is not a reference to sick; it is not related to the sickness we see described later on in this passage. This is simply another reference to being afflicted with trials, mistreatment, and persecutions. This is the main reason this verse seems so connected to the discussion before. When we face trial, we should pray; when we face persecution, we should pray.

We pray for a solution; we pray for God’s will; sometimes we simply pray for comfort during these times. The answer to what we face is there, we just have to reach for it, and we reach for it by prayer. One writer used this Hymn to illustrate what we give away when we fail to pray, and instead act inappropriately.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry

Ev’rything to God in prayer

Have we trials and temptations?

Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged,

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden?

Cumbered with a load of care?

Precious Savior, still our refuge,

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Faith In Action-Speak Honestly

faith in action

James 5:12

But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

Here, it almost seems James has taken off in yet another direction. In this verse, James teaches a point on, basically, honesty in one’s words. There is some discussion among commentators about how exactly this verse fits with the previous discussion; not all even agree that it ties in with the previous discussion. It may stand alone as an instruction, but it also may be tied to earlier statements. It is very possible that James is instructing us to watch what we say during times of stress and conflict, In other words, do not let the stress of a moment cause us to make promises we have no plan to keep. Personally, I like that linkage. Either way, the point of the lesson does not change much.

Let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; If you say yes mean yes; if you say no, mean no. It’s all about integrity. This is a critical point in our Christian walks and in our testimonies. Christians should be instantly known as people whose yes means yes and whose no means no. There should never be any doubt in the mind of the people we engage with that the words be speak are, to our knowledge, true.

This matters to God. Jesus said the following:

Matthew 5:37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, also had something to say about words of integrity.

Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

How do we know this matters to God? We are to deal honestly in our words lest ye fall into condemnation. Lying is a sin.

Let’s be honest, the world as a whole has many opportunities to find ways to present Christians as hypocrites; do we need to give it one more?

Faith In Action-The Patience of Job

faith in action

James 5:11

Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

 During the last few days we have covered a lot territory concerning patience and endurance. We have seen James provide us with many good reasons why we should live a lifestyle of patience and endurance. We do it because God is patient with us; we do it because it is the example Jesus Christ set for us; we do it because we can see the example set by believers throughout history.

Now, we see yet another reason and motivation to exercise patience in our lives, even in the face of trials and adversity. God blesses those who endure these things patiently. We have seen the end of the Lord; in other words, God has a good outcome planned for those who endure patiently.

There is probably no greater story in all of Scripture about patient endurance than the story of Job in the Old Testament.

Read Job here.

Job was tested more than any man we see in The Bible. Reading the history, we can see some of the reasons why God tested Job, and they line up quite well with some of the things James is teaching us in his Epistle.

To test Job’s faith and prove the reality of it.

To divert Satan’s evil plans.

To make Job’s faith stronger.

To bless Job.

We can see this now, but poor Job had no idea of God’s plan.He just simply endured. Job lost his family, his possessions, and his health. Job lost everything. Job may have questioned God and asked why, but he never lost his faith or love for God. What happened in the end?

Job 42:10-17 And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold. So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch. And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren. After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, even four generations. So Job died, being old and full of days.

Paul also recognized that those who endure patiently are the recipients of God’s favor, Anyone recall the thorn in Paul’s side? God did not remove that thorn; Paul merely endured it, using strength provided by God to do so.

2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

In our above examples, we see a couple of different outcomes coming as a result of patience. Job, as we see, was physically and materially blessed for demonstrating patience in The Lord. It’s very important to note, however, that there is no promise of material blessings as a result of patience. God is not a cosmic candy machine who will give us stuff if we jut put in the coin marked patience.

Note that Paul didn’t get anything material as a result of his patience and waiting for God. Paul got grace; Paul simply received the strength through the Holy Spirit to endure and live with his particular affliction.

The point is, God’s promises are good and they are guaranteed. If we do His work, in His way, in His time, we will be blessed. It may be now, it may be later; but He guarantees it. Are we resting in that guarantee?

Faith In Action-The Prophets Were Patient

faith in action

James 5:10,11

Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

Previously we discussed the idea of enduring trials and even persecutions at the hands of others patiently as a way to follow the example of our God regarding how He has treated us. James has kindly provided us more examples of men who endured suffering yet endured it patiently.

Here we see the thought of enduring suffering, or evil, with great patience and long suffering. This is the same word for patience we have seen over and over, so specifically it refers to patience with and toward people. So, even more specifically we see a reference here to the Old Testament Prophets in the face of discouragement and even persecution.

Here it might be a good idea to look at just what the prophets were really doing. Sometimes we think they just sat around foretelling the future. While that was a part of the ministries of some of them, it was not the primary thing any of them did. I have heard the ministry of a prophet being sometimes two fold; foretelling and forth telling. Fore telling, or course, would be the revelations of future events. Forth telling would be simply the preaching and proclamation of God’s Word. That was, in fact, the primary mission of all of the Old Testament Prophets, much more so then telling of future events.

Take a few months and read through the Major and Minor Prophets.  It is easy to discern a pattern of response to their preaching. The pattern was, that in most cases there was no response. Imagine, if one can, preaching for years and years to multitudes with no one listening. That is just what most of the Old Testament Prophets faced.

The other pattern we see is that they never gave up, they never stopped, and notably they never stopped loving the people they preached to. How were they able to do this? James has told us, and the answer is patience. They were patient in The Lord. They knew who they were working for and who’s message they were spreading. They understood the rewards to come were far greater than the trials here.

So, what is our problem? Time after time we see men enduring great hardship and carrying on. Most were universally ignored, mocked and even threatened with death. None ever accumulated great wealth or riches. Yet they carried on. They were patient in The Lord. So, the question is: What’s our problem?

Faith In Action-Be Patient Again

faith in action

James 5:10.11

Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.


Read all of James Chapter 5 here

James is speaking here again of patience. Remember earlier, way back in Chapter 1, James began the text of his letter by talking about patience and how it matures us in our walk with The Lord. James may have begun touching on this revisit to patience in verse 7 while he was discussing not holding grudges. Some of his teaching there may have been to show that we should not allow the trials we face to cause us to act out towards our brethren, but to be patient in The Lord. As, we continue, he is obviously talking to us about being patient.

Once again, let’s take a quick look at a linguistic issue. The word translated patience commonly in the New Testament, and here as well has meaning other than what we might think. It combines a couple of words, long and temper to convey the one thought of patience. We are to be long-tempered; we are to be long suffering. The emphasis is on the idea of patience evidenced by an attitude of non retaliation. This means that, when faced with difficulties we are not to strike back in the direction we think they may be coming from. If we think other people are causing them, we should not strike back at them; if we think God is allowing or causing them, we should not strike back at Him. We should be long tempered, long suffering, and patient.

But that’s very difficult! Yes, indeed it is. It is also how God reacts to us. The following is from Vine’s Expository Dictionary regarding this word patient.

MAKROTHUMIA ( makros= long, thumos = temper) is usually rendered “long-suffering.” Long-suffering is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish; it is the opposite of anger, and is associated with mercy, and is used of God. Exodus 34:6(Sept.); Romans 2:4; 1 Peter 3:20

Let’s think about this topic of long suffering and patience for a few moments. We are told to constantly look to the example of our Savior to guide our behavior. We are also to be long suffering and patient both in the face of difficulties and never use them as an excuse to strike out against others. Sometimes we think it is no big deal when we fail in this area.

But what if God was not long suffering and patient with us over history even in the face of our repeated rebellions against HIm and rejection of Him? What if Jesus had not been patient and long suffering in the face of the trials and suffering He endured on the Cross as He died to pay our penalty? Where would we all be now?

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