James 5:13-20

Pastor Eric Huber

Personally, I’ve always found this to be a somewhat difficult passage.

It almost seems like a hodge-podge of thoughts that James has thrown together at the end of his letter.  It raises a number of questions. How does confessing sins relate to praying for the sick? And how do those activities relate to restoring a brother or sister in Christ who has wandered from the truth?

I think James is saying more than we often realize in this passage.

We are so intent on understanding a few specific verses that we don’t see how it fits in the whole of James’ letter.  In a sense, we don’t see the forest because of the trees. When we have a hard time understanding specific passage, it is a good idea to pull back and look at the larger section.  It is about context – understanding the flow of James thought process and how that leads to these specific verses.

For the entire letter, James has been arguing that saving faith will produce godly living for those united to Christ. 

In chapter 1 he says, “be doers of the word and not hearers only.”  

In chapter 2, James says, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?”  The answer James gives is no!  True saving faith is active faith that will produce good works.  Our life is to evidence a new nature and the work of the Spirit within us.

As we come to chapter 4, James challenges us to not live like the world, but rather to humble ourselves before God.

Humility before God and each other is to be the distinguishing mark of individual Christians, as well as the local church

The rest of the book of James from chapter 4 verse 11 through the end of the book (James 5:20) is a working out what Christian humility looks like in the local church.

In every circumstance, we are to have a God oriented response.

Praising God in the good times, praying in the bad is our humble response as we entrust ourselves to God as individuals and as a corporate body.  We call each other to confess and repent; we confront in love and gentleness those who are wandering from the truth. 

We seek in every way possible for the health of the church realizing a spiritually healthy is made up of spiritually healthy church members loving and serving God and one another in humility.


“Prayer and Healing”                       

 James 5:13-16

When I was 16, I watched a woman be healed dramatically! Since then I have watched many people die. The subjects of Prayer and Healing are connected and of deep interest to all believers.

James begins with an encouragement to pray (v13)

Whatever is going on in life, we are to respond with prayer and praise

Prayer and praise should be inseparable, neither one existing alone

Prayer and praise are the voice of the Christian life 

As Christians, how can life move apart from interaction with the Triune God?

Prayer and worship are not polite Christianity, or religious form

They are integral to how we think of God, the gospel, ourselves, and Christ’s kingdom

Prayer and praise is our starting place, our safe place, and where we find strength

Let’s look at the text through a series of questions

1.  Why are we told to ‘call for the elders’? (v14)

Elders (pastors) don’t have special power, they represent the Church (v16 tells us elders are not the only ones to pray for these needs)

God’s role in our lives is connected to our local church 

At Greentree we emphasize biblical community, because the Bible does

2.  Why are the sick to be ‘anointed with oil’? (v14)

Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit; it is a reminder of where the power comes from

The use of oil is not a sacrament (giving grace); and oil from Jerusalem is not more effective

Oil is used in the Bible for anointing to declare we are calling for God’s presence

3.  Why do we need to ‘confess our sins’? (v16)

It’s not because all sickness is the result of a sin; v15 says ‘if’ they sinned. And Job’s friends were rebuked by God for making that accusation against him

The emphasis here is that we must come to God with a right heart

This is similar to the principle behind John Baptist’s ministry; he prepared the way for Christ by calling on people to repent

Prayer for healing must be more than acknowledging God’s power

We are acknowledging His rule over all things, including our bodies and life

4.  What is the “prayer of faith”?  (v15)

This is prayer that trusts in God, by acting on what He has said

It is trusting that we have free access to God, that He is able to heal, that He cares for us, and He is perfectly good

This prayer is offered in Jesus name, which means it is offered according to his will

In Exodus 6:2-3, when God made his “name known” to His people it was to say “I am the Lord”. God was claiming sovereignty over their lives

Prayer offered in Jesus name fulfills what we are taught in the Lord’s prayer “Your will be done”

It follows Jesus prayer in Gethsemane when he said “Not my will, but yours”

Our faith doesn’t leverage God into acting on our behalf

Biblical faith can never involve the lessening of God’s sovereignty

5.  Why are not all Christians healed? (v15)

There is a measure of mystery to this, which we cannot fully answer – now

But Paul was told by God that his “thorn in the flesh” would not be removed.

Paul refers a few times to his co-laborers who he left ill

Concluding thoughts

1.  Sickness can come for different reasons

Sickness at times may be because of our sin, as a discipline from God (1 Corinthians 11:27-30)

Sickness may not be because of our sin, but a test from God (2 Corinthians 12:7-9) 

Sickness may be the mercy of God to deliver us from this evil world (1 Kings 14:1 & 13)

Sickness may be so God can demonstrate his sovereignty (John 9:1-3)

2.  It is good to want healing, but remember those who are healed on earth will eventually die

3.  We are encouraged to pray for healing, expecting God’s activity

It is not more spiritual to accept disease and refuse to ask for healing

If we hide sin in our hearts we should not ask for or expect healing 

4.  Total healing cannot occur until our incorruptible bodies are changed at the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15)

Aging, sickness and death are a direct result of the original sin. Our current bodies are affected by our sin nature

5.  As people of the gospel, we should recognize God uses our condition in His big plan!

The witness of spiritual fruit (godly character) is greater than that of miracles 

God will be good in our sufferings and He will use them well (James 1:2-3)

6.  God will heal all things perfectly and forever!


God knows the oppressor and the oppressed

James 5:1-11

Fairness, oppression and justice; these are issues people care about deeply. Is God concerned?  Will God act? People have their opinions, in James 5 we have what God says

James addresses the oppressor and the oppressed

vs 1-6 His warnings appear to be directed to the unbelieving world

vs 7-11 James is addressing “brothers” i.e. the church

James starts with 4 warnings against common misuses of wealth

1.  vs 2-3 warn against hoarding wealth: The unsatisfied pursuit of having more

This is someone whose hope is in wealth, without eyes for God’s kingdom

Hoarding ignores that the world belongs to God and we are his stewards

2.  v4 warns against defrauding others:  Dishonesty to increase wealth

The text uses the example of employees, but it could also be customers

3.  v5 warns against self-indulgent lifestyles

The focus is on our use of wealth rather than on the amount of it

4.  v6 warns against financial oppression

This is when the pursuit of more damages people’s lives

These warnings can be condensed into two basic indictments:

(1)  If you are depending on wealth, it will fail you

(2)  Don’t be deceived by earthly success, because sin will be judged

Although these warnings are for the unbelieving world, we are to examine ourselves

Even if our guilt is far ‘milder’, God is displeased by any form of it

The main issue isn’t wealth itself, but wealth that ignores God

Wealth doesn’t make us sin, but it is filled with opportunities for sin (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

We protect ourselves through the pursuit of being stewards for God (Matthew 6:19-21)

Randy Alcorn writes in his excellent book The Treasure Principle:

“Giving is the antidote to materialism”

Our giving is a central part of godliness

Do you ever seek God concerning your giving?

James gives encouragement to the church (v7)

God who sees the oppressor, also has a heart for the oppressed

Just as the rich need to have an eternal justice perspective (v9 the Judge is at the door)

So the oppressed need an eternal blessing perspective (v7 the Lord is coming)

It is easy to be discouraged when we can clearly see and feel  oppression

Patience is needed because the world is filled with people who fulfill vs 1-6

Patience is appropriate because Christ is “coming” (v7)

The injustices of the world are not an endless turning wheel

As we wait in anticipation of Christ with these attitudes:

1.  Be Patient (mentioned four times)

The illustration of the farmer tells us our struggles are only for a season

This patience keeps us from losing hope: we are confident about what’s ahead

This patience keeps us from losing focus: we live by what’s coming

2.  Establish or strengthen your heart v8

We are not just “getting by”, we have the wealth of gospel blessings (Ephesians 1)

We have exciting and meaningful purposes to plunge our life into – this includes being a worshiper

3.  Don’t “grumble” against fellow-believers (v9)

Grumbling causes us to join the oppressors

If we have the gospel, grumbling becomes an accusation against God

And the Judge who stands against the sins of vs 1-6, stands against this too

We are to exchange being complainers to become exhorters for Christ!

James provides wonderful encouragements that make those attitudes possible

1.  Jesus is near (vs 8-9)

No believer is far from Christ’s presence or his fulfillments

2.  Jesus is purposeful (v11)

Do you trust God in his purposes?

That he will fulfill them?

That they are good?

We have great examples in Scripture (v10-11)

We are not the first generation to suffer and struggle

From the distance of time, we can see that God did not fail his people in the past

Don’t you want to be an example for generations that follow us?

3.  Jesus is coming! 

This is a reality which looms over all our struggles and all our oppressors

Do we live as if we will see Jesus?

And what difference should that make?


“Living in God’s Big Plan”                  

James 4:13-17

In James 4 we are challenged to consider how we plan and to consider God’s place in our plans

Our best laid plans are untrustworthy

We don’t have the power to ensure that our plans will work

Our best wisdom – has corruptions and insufficiency

Our best strength – runs out and can be overwhelmed by a simple cold

Even if life appears to be going our way, we have expiration date

Bottom line: there is little we can make go our way (our children are exhibit A)

James is not against planning, as v15 shows us

He is chiding us for planning as if we have life in our back pocket

What is Jame’s criticism if planning is okay? 

It is the arrogance of self-sufficiency v16

The word used for arrogance is also translated “pride of life” in 1 John 2:16

Pride of life is thinking life is our playground rather than God’s Kingdom

Life belongs to God!  All living that ignores Him is “evil” (v16)

It’s arrogance to live as if we are in control and only accountable to ourselves

James adds that we “boast in” our arrogance (or self-sufficiency)

When we treat God as if He is for emergencies we boast in ourselves

When we are content & take joy in our independence, we boast in ourselves

Animals live without considering God, as do demons and unbelievers; will it be true of Christians as well?

James wants to make sure our perspectives are in focus

1.  Is the perspective we have about ourselves in focus?

“Come now” in vs 1 is a blunt call to reality (i.e. Get real!)

We should know that we are limited in our wisdom

So rejoice God has given us His word:  perfect, unfailing truth (2 Peter 1:3-4)

We should know we are limited in what we can do

So rejoice that the Holy Spirit who lives in us, is flowing as rivers of living water

We should know this world is broken and our time limited

So see life as both everlasting and temporary; let both truths guide our plans

2.  Is our perspective about God in Focus? (v15)

We gain little help if we see the truth about ourselves, without seeing the truth about God

All things are made by His hands, and they remain in His hands

God is not simply a powerful God; He is the only Sovereign God! (1 Timothy 6:15-16)

Full clarity will say “Amen” to God’s sovereignty 

3.  Are we in focus about the big plan in which God has placed us?

God is doing the most extraordinary things

He is making all things whole, new, perfect and at rest – forever 

We are included in God’s beyond-amazing plan

We are in the middle of it, God is using us!

Every day you are in it. All our actions and prayers can be part of it

What does it mean to live by God’s big plan? 

1.  God’s way is always first

Nothing should rise above it (not our desires, hurts, relationships or careers)

How big of a check can God write on our life?

2.  God’s way is always in hand

We will intentionally use our life to serve Christ’s Kingdom

3.  God himself is where we go for contentment

We stop depending on relationships or our favorite soul-soothing habits

James has one more comment on this matter (v17)

Failure to do what we know is right, is sinful

James is uncovering an area of sin we minimize: our failure to depend upon God

If we rarely read God’s word – we are not depending upon God

If prayerfulness is not an integral part of how we live – we are not depending upon God

If we expect people to sustain us – we are not depending upon God

If we live disconnected from the Church which God established – we are not depending upon Him

Whose big plan are we living for?


“The Best Wisdom ”

James 3:13-18

How would you define being wise?  Who do you think is wise – and why?

James tells us both where wisdom comes from, and how it is shown:

“Who is wise and understanding among you?  By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom”  (3:13)

Wisdom comes from God (vs 15 & 17)

There is no other logical or biblical conclusion

Logically, wisdom cannot exist outside of God who is the source of all existence

Biblically, Proverbs 9:10 tells us “The fear of Lord is the beginning of wisdom” 

The Bible gives us no other place to look for wisdom

What is wisdom?

Wisdom is using life well

The whole world agrees with this statement, but we differ greatly in its application

We can only use life well if have an eternal perspective of life, because life is eternal

We can only use life well if we live in submission to God, because He alone rules over eternity

The only use of life that is not wasted, is when we serve the kingdom that will remain standing

To sum it up: 

Wisdom is when we live according to the realities of God

Wisdom is shown by godly character

It is instructive what James doesn’t mention as evidence of wisdom

1.  He doesn’t mention knowing truth (although wisdom must know it)

Wisdom is when the truth we know, works in our actions (James has made this point repeatedly)

This means that truth must be transforming our heart Mark 7:21-23

2.  He doesn’t mention accomplishment (although wisdom will produce fruit)

Getting ahead in this world shows we have a certain amount of insight

But the fruit of wisdom is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and is all about character

Wisdom is not chiefly what we build, but what God builds in us

In vs 14-16, James tells us the conduct that is devoid of true wisdom

Twice he mentions “jealousy and selfish ambition”

Jealousy puts aside grace, love and God’s kingdom to exalt its own desires

Selfish ambition is a similar self-centeredness; the word also implies strife and factions

These attitudes are without wisdom (v15)

Instead they are “earthly, unspiritual and demonic”  

This is because these attitudes focus on ourselves and earthbound desires; God is neglected and Satan’s counsel is followed

When our eyes are on this false wisdom, life leaves a trail of disorder and sin v16

In vs 17-18, James tells us the conduct that expresses true wisdom

He says “first it is pure”

It is ‘pure’ because wisdom will lead to an unmixed devotion for God’s ways

This is ‘first’ because we cannot serve God without it

James follows with 7 qualities that in the Greek are grammatically framed into 3 groupings

1.  Wisdom is “peaceable, gentle and reasonable” – these are the opposite qualities from (vs 15-16)

The picture is of a church that is marked by peace and cooperation

2.  Wisdom is “full of mercy and good fruits” – which means wise conduct overflows love for others

3.  Wisdom is “impartial and sincere” – we are not divisive and we look out for one another

James begins this section by identifying how we identify wisdom (v13)

True wisdom is shown by how we live, as true faith is shown by works

He ends the section by telling us what it will produce (v18)

As we apply godly wisdom, peace will increases in us and the whole church

In fact, James refers to the wise as those who “make peace”

This is not simply the peace of pacifism; it is the deeper peace of God’s agenda for restoring people to Himself and each other

But what about practical wisdom?

‘I know we need God’s wisdom to get to heaven, but I need wisdom for life now’

There is nothing more practical, than when our life pursues God

1.  This is because all of life eventually ends at the doorstep of God’s kingdom

Is your life spent gathering as much luggage as you can?  What will you keep when you enter eternity?

2.  This is because all good things come from God (1:16-17)

All of us want to gather as much good in our life as possible; so James reminds us where good comes from

“Every good gift” is from God – He not only created all good things, God invented ‘feeling good’

“Every perfect gift” is from God – because he is making the good things complete and ‘perfect’

Do you want reality?  

You are entirely dependent upon God!

We either build our life on that rock, or life is broken on it

If you are reading this, you are probably trying to build on it

But are your efforts half-hearted?  Do you settle for part of godly wisdom?

Why pursue some good when God is all and perfectly good?!


The Power and Potential of Words

James 3:1-12

James is concerned about how we live in biblical community.  He now addresses another area that hurts biblical community – another area where we need to put our faith into action.

Our words are among the “works” which show our faith (James 1:26)

James makes a big statement about controlling our words (v2)

The “perfect” person, refers to someone who is blameless and godly 

Control over what we say is evidence of a general godliness of life

Our words reflect our heart, whether they are planned or spill out

Has James exaggerated about our tongue?

1.  The tongue is powerful in how it guides our life (vs 3-5)

Our words are like a ship’s rudder that leads the rest of our actions

Angry words inflame us and proud words entrench us  

Our words can also lead those around us

Words impact the listener who responds to our words

Words create a tone for others to follow  

James points out that our tongue is a small instrument, yet, just like a single flame, it can cause an inferno

Our words become wise guides when we use them to preach the gospel to ourselves

2.  The tongue is powerful in its potential for destructiveness

James builds on his flame illustration to show the harm words cause (v6)

Our words stain our whole person

How many people’s opinion of you is based mostly on your words?

Words affect the entire course of life, because words often fill our day  

Unless our words are God inspired and God honoring, they are hellish

Our words have greater potential for godliness Holy Spirit can fill them

3.  The tongue is hard to control (vs 7-8)

Our words don’t merely have a wild nature, they have a sinful nature 

We can stop certain words, but a “restless evil” lies within

The power to fully fix our tongue is not in us, we need the Holy Spirit

In this world, we will always have an untamable sinful nature

So we need to seek an ongoing dependency on the Holy Spirit

Gaining control of our tongue will flow out of God having control of our heart

4.  The tongue can cause our life to be marked by inconsistency (vs 9-12)

In the same conversation, we can claim to love God and then defame a fellow believer

There is an inappropriateness about this – God hates it

We deceive ourselves to think we are good while our words are uncontrolled

We have a weakened witness and influence for Christ

Who would use a spring that alternates between being clean and polluted?

v2 says ‘we all stumble’, but we should not be doubled-minded

This is especially true in our home – there is a difference between our family seeing us fall, and them watching us change paths

If we consistently fill our heart with godly influences we will bear consistent fruit

Our words can have wonderful effects:

1.  When we change the subject of our words

Make God the focus of your words: what God is like, what He is doing and what He loves to do

Nothing is more worthy, wise, powerful, lasting, and needed than God focused words

2.  When we change the purpose for our words

Rather than words that are critical, shallow or self-focused, choose words that encourage people with Christ’s agenda 

We live amidst the rain of foul, foolish, empty and godless words

But Romans 10:15 says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news”



“How do we look at people?”                   

 James 2:1-13

James continues to address how we live in community, as believers. He now warns us treating one another according to the external standards of the world

Partiality is when we make unbiblical distinctions between each other

Partiality can take the forms of either Discrimination or Favoritism

The Church is not immune to ‘celebrity-itis’ or cultural prejudices

The word for “partiality” in v1 literally means “receiving the face”

It is referring to treating people based on external matters

The example James uses, is when we treat one another according to social status

Our perspective is to be radically different from the surrounding culture

We need to make a couple clarifications

1.  We need to distinguish between Discerning and Discriminating

Discrimination is treating people differently based on their group

Discernment responds accurately to people as wisdom requires

For example, in Children’s Ministry we do not let just anyone teach; this is for reasons of physical safety and biblical safety

Discernment can show love even though it requires trust to be earned

Discrimination is a preloaded opinion that fails to show love, or wisdom

2.  As Christians, biblical standards must overrule personal standards

The world places personal choices first, so they consider the Church’s rebuke of them to be discriminatory

The church must operate under the standards of God’s word, which means we must confront sin. Sometimes that will involve restrictive action (church discipline)

This is not discrimination and it is not judging – as long as we are using God’s judgments and not our own

Three reasons why partiality doesn’t belong in our hearts

1.  Partiality stands in contradiction to God’s own evaluation (v5)

God saves by his ‘choice’; if we treat people with a bias, we are contradicting God

In addition, when God saves someone, he also adopts them as heirs of his kingdom

How do you feel when someone mocks or disdains one of your children?

2.  Partiality ignores basic human realities (vs 6-7)

People of status often are those who misuse the rest of society

They often blaspheme (or disregard) God who we cherish

3.  Partiality violates our guiding principle of loving neighbor (v8)

God has given us a new agenda, which is to show love toward every person

Love looks at people’s best interest

Love takes action that reflects how God cares for us

One form of partiality we often don’t recognize in ourselves, is when we assume bad motives for people

It is internal slander and violates the Bible’s teaching on Love 

1 Corinthians 13:7 “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things” 

James wants to press upon us the seriousness of the matter

1.  This and every sin should be taken seriously (vs10-11)

His point is that we are responsible for all that God requires

His purpose is to keep us from minimizing partiality as a small sin     

2.  Partiality is a serious departure from biblical thinking

It is inconsistent with our faith in Christ (v1)

All people are sinners, condemned and helpless. No one in our church received salvation because they were better people

In v1 James refers to Christ as the Lord of glory. He is reminding us that He alone deserves to be exalted by us

Partiality is inconsistent with Christ’s agenda. We are called to always pursue people, not set up prejudices

In v4 James adds that the motivation behind partiality is evil thoughts. This is because we are using the world’s way of thinking

A couple important implications:

1.  The Word of truth is meant to influence every aspect of life

Everything is under the authority of God and His word

It is too easy for us to think we are pretty good at following God’s word

Being connected in a small group helps us to think through biblical truth and holds us accountable to it

2.  The Church is meant to be a community of vibrant love in action

The biblical community in our church should show the transforming reality of God that we see in the Acts 2 church

But this will only take place if we are “doers” of what the Bible says about the Church

People regularly experience partiality; so w have an opportunity to demonstrate something different

Is there anyone you should treat differently? 


“God’s word is worthy of action”

James 1:19-27

James focuses on our speech, listening and anger

He does this out of concern for biblical community

How we listen, is a significant factor in the quality of our relationships

Think about how listening reflects God’s character

Becoming a better listener is one way to imitate God

Listening is a way of showing love for people

Listening is a way of choosing Christ’s agenda for people over our own

In contrast, anger is a significant factor in dividing biblical community

v20 anger produces effects which are opposite of righteousness

Does anger help us think better, listen clearly, show love or build relationships?

In v21 when James says “put away” worldly wickedness, he is not changing subjects

We avoid anger, by getting rid of the worldly behaviors that stimulate it

The world stimulates selfishness, lust, pride and coveting etc. (1 John 2:15-17)

We manage our anger, by managing what influences our heart

Living by God’s word, protects our heart from anger (v21)

God’s word gives us a better perspective about ourselves, life and other people

We are to receive God’s word with meekness

This means we surrender our agenda and submit to God’s will

Biblical meekness is not weakness; it takes strength through the Holy Spirit

God’s word is to be “implanted” in us

Implanting God’s word is to be shaped and guided by it

Do we implant God’s word in our family schedule and priorities?

James presents the big picture principle (vs 22-25)

We are to live out God’s word!

The word has been set before us: we read it and hear it preached

And God wants us to behave according to that word

What does it mean to be a Doer of the word”?

1.  A doer thinks about what the Bible says

James is not urging us to blind action, he is calling us to biblically informed action

2.  A doer measures their life against what the Bible says

We should compare how we live to what the Bible says

We sift our lives by God’s word and we “put away” the debris v21

3.  A doer submits to what the Bible says

We “receive” it, which means we say “yes” to it

Do we acknowledge that God’s word has authority over our life?

Do we try to debate the merits or relevance of God’s word?

4.  A doer takes action according to what the Bible says

Our life is to be conducted in response to God

5.  A doer does all that the Bible says 

Christ is our Lord!  We do not have the right to pick and choose our areas of obedience

Being a complete doer includes the attitude we have in our ‘doing’

If we think being a hearer is enough, we are “deceived”! (v22)

James compares it to looking in mirror without remembering what we see (vs 23-24)

What benefit is there to looking in a mirror, if we cannot remember what we see?

The reason our church emphasizes real commitment in church membership and participation in small groups, is to help us move beyond being mere hearers of sermons

If we settle for being a hearer we also defraud ourselves!

God’s Word is “perfect”! It protects and it blesses (v25)

God’s word is not arbitrary or abstract; it is the best wisdom available

Why will heaven be wonderful? Because the perfect law of God will rule all things

James returns to specific behaviors in vs 26-27

James doesn’t want us to walk away, saying “Amen” to his instructions without having a plan of action

So he reminds us that Christianity is real when it bears the fruit of Holiness and Love

Does God’s word call us to action that you know you have been ignoring?

Is the Holy Spirit pressing your heart about steps of obedience?

Be a doer of God’s word – your life will be blessed and fruitful


Earlier this month, I gave you this background on our new preaching series from the New Testament book of James.

I included a schedule of when each section would be covered so you can read along and pray through these portion of James as we go along.

However jury duty has jumbled up that schedule. I am in the midst of an estimated three weeks of this civic responsibility.

So here is the updated breakdown of how we will preach through James:

October 5    James 1:12-18 

October 12    James 1:19-27

October 19    James 2:1-13

October 26    James 2:14-26

November 2    James 3:1-12

November 9    James 3:13-18

November 16    James 4:1-12

November 23    James 4:13-17

November 30    James 5:1-6

December 7    James 5:7-12

December 14    James 5:13-20

And don’t forget that this Sunday, our preaching guest will be our good friend Tim Shorey from Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA


Wisdom for Every Struggle                     

James 1:5-11

We need wisdom, because life is filled with trials

The use of the word “lack(ing)” in vs 4 and v5 show us James is continuing his subject of how we “meet trials”

We need wisdom to have a biblical perspective for our trials

We need wisdom to take biblical steps in our trials

1st Encouragement:  God has all the wisdom we need

God is not merely wiser or the wisest, he is the “only wise God” (Romans 16:27)

All wisdom begins with God, because he began all things

People who are not impressed with God’s wisdom, are living in disregard of eternity

2nd Encouragement: God gives generously  

The word here for generous means more than abundance; it implies God’s ‘careful attention’

God gives out of his complete wisdom and his deep love for us

3rd Encouragement: God gives without reproach

God doesn’t belittle us for needing so much wisdom, or for needing it so often

How we ask for wisdom is essential (v6)

We are to “ask in faith”

In chapter 2, James tells us faith is belief that takes action (2:17-19)

To ask in faith means we believe God has the wisdom we need AND we act according to wisdom he gives

Who is this ‘doubter’ that James warns against?

It is not everyone who ever struggles with a doubt

The word pictures show that doubt is the course of their life (vs 6-8)

They have no root in God or his word.

They doubt God is the source of all wisdom

In desperation they may ask for God’s help, but they don’t bow to his rule

This person’s request is not answered (v7), because they want relief, but not God

What is the prayer of faith that James commends?

1.  Prayer that God himself is enough for us; so we live that way

2.  Prayer that believes the gospel hasn’t exaggerated; so we live that way

3.  Prayer that trusts how God responds is trustworthy; so we live that way

Faith is strengthened by the practices of being a worshipper, and of preaching the gospel to ourselves

God answers our request through 3 branches of the same stream

1.  God’s Word – read it and be under its teaching   

2.  The Holy Spirit – respond to His convictions   

3.  God’s people – grow meaningful connections in your church

God’s wisdom is always appropriate even when not it’s specific

We may not hear the precise details we want, but God always gives us the attitude, perspective, and priorities we need

Wisdom in trials includes our view of a blessed life (v 9-11)

The context of the “lowly” brother in v9, is his financial and social status

Our financial and social status is a major category in the ‘trials of life’

James wants us to think about our ‘status’ with a biblical perspective

1.  If your heart is burdened by what you don’t have – look again

Your position before God is beloved child and heir with Christ

Your possessions are the gospel, the Holy Spirit and a new life

Your experiences will include all that the new Heaven and new Earth can offer

2.  If you have an abundance of material blessing – look clearly!

Your greatest blessing is what was taken from you:  sin and judgment

Your hope is in what you could never obtain yourself

But, James doesn’t let it go; he keeps pressing the point (vs 10-11)

We struggle to prosper and still keep a dynamic biblical perspective

James reminds us eventually all we will have left is our soul standing before God

We need wisdom in how we respond to trials and in how we live in prosperity

If we are not living in love and submission to God – we don’t have wisdom