We’re in the last chapter of James’ letter to believers on how to be a mature Christian. In this last chapter, James is bringing up several topics. Like he doesn’t want us to overlook or forget certain important points and issues. First, let’s define an important “Christianese” term…
What is a “Mature Christian”?
I consider myself a mature Christian now. 2021 will be my 15th year baptized into a new life with Jesus. Since then, actually before then, I’ve been constantly growing in my Christian faith. Back in the 80s and 90s, I was a Halfway Christian. I thought I had my ticket to heaven, but I was wrong. I knew who Jesus was, but I didn’t KNOW Jesus in my heart.
When I invited Jesus into my heart in 1995, I was then a baby Christian. I needed to learn how to strive to be like Christ. I needed to totally surrender my life. That, for me, took longer than I care to admit. I wanted to still live with one foot in God’s Kingdom and one foot in the world. That didn’t work. It took years of bible studies and church meetings for God to get my attention.
I feel comfortable explaining why I believe what I believe and how to lead somebody to Christ. I’ve grown from a learner to a teacher. However, I’m still learning. Every day, I may read a Bible verse that I’ve read dozens of times before and I see it in a new light. God shows me what He wants me to see in it. That works with the help of the Holy Spirit.
I love the picture at the top of the blog — a little kid reading a well-worn Bible. Growing up Catholic, we had a Bible in the house, but it was just for show. My parents never read it, nor did they encourage me to. I had a catechism book with the Catholic Church’s version of religion.
Each Person is Different
I’ve heard so many testimonies and each one is different. No two experiences are alike. They may be similar, but not alike. Just like God has a purpose for me, He has a purpose for you. Let’s dig into the final chapter of the Book of James…
James Chapter 5
A Warning to the Rich
Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. 2 Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This corroded treasure you have hoarded will testify against you on the day of judgment. 4 For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
5 You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and killed innocent people, who do not resist you.James 5:1-6 NLT
This is not saying that having money is bad. Hoarding is bad. Giving is good. King David was rich. Last night I read about what he did before he died.
“And now, because of my devotion to the Temple of my God, I am giving all of my own private treasures of gold and silver to help in the construction. This is in addition to the building materials I have already collected for his holy Temple. 4 I am donating more than 112 tons of gold from Ophir and 262 tons of refined silver to be used for overlaying the walls of the buildings 5 and for the other gold and silver work to be done by the craftsmen. Now then, who will follow my example and give offerings to the Lord today?”1 Chronicles 29:3-5 NLT
We are called to be “cheerful givers” by giving 10% of our income. That’s a mature Christian. Jesus told us…
19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”Matthew 6:19-21 NLT
Patience and Endurance
7 Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. 8 You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.
9 Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door!
10 For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.
12 But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned.James 5:7-12 NLT
Patience — it’s one of the fruit of the Spirit. Yet, it’s something that many of us lack — me included. I have matured in my patience as I matured in my Christian walk. Jesus is coming back soon! We have to be ready. Furthermore, we have to be patient. Peter told us…
9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.2 Peter 3:9-10 NLT
Continuing with James…
The Power of Prayer
13 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 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. 15 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.
16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. 17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.James 5:13-18 NLT
Prayer Does have Power!
I remember when I was unemployed, my church had a 24-hour prayer event. We were supposed to commit to praying for 1 hour. One hour! Could I pray for 1 hour? I signed up. I went into the prayer room at my church. I prayed for my situation, for missionaries all over the world, for friends who were sick and more. Before I knew it, the hour was done. I went to see some friends afterwards and when they asked, “How are you?” I honestly replied…
I had experienced what Paul wrote about in Philippians…
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
Finally, James Ends with a Call…
Restore Wandering Believers
19 My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, 20 you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.James 5:19-20 NLT
Don’t Wander from the Truth!
Have you let sin get between you and God? Do you think that it’s OK to sin as long as you can go to confession on Saturday? Well, the truth is, that doesn’t save you. That won’t buy your way into heaven. Only Jesus can save you. That’s why He died on the cross.
The problem is that the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t teach the Gospel Truth. So, there is no way you can wander from the truth if you don’t know what that truth is!
Read the Bible!
The truth is free and it will set you free. Jesus said…
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:32 NLT
My excuse was not having a Bible growing up. You don’t have that excuse! There are free Bible study apps that you can download right now to your mobile device. Here are my two favorites. I use them every day. Oh, and did I mention that they were free? What are you waiting for? Seek the truth for yourself today!
Recommended Bible Study Apps:
Soli Deo Gloria — To God Alone Be the Glory!