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James 4and5 - The LORD Exalts The Humble

INTRODUCTION: Believers should not act in any manner as though their faith in the Lord is an accomplishment to their own credit. James reminded believers that faith without works does not honor the Lord; but at the same time there is no Christian so productive in righteous works not to admit complete humility before the Lord of all Creation. We must remember that every perfect gift comes down from heaven from the Father of light and life, and all glory belongs to the Lord.

NOTE: Bible passages are from the New Heart English Bible (NHEB).

A - HUMBLE YOURSELF BEFORE THE LORD AND HE WILL EXALT YOU

James 4 "1 Where do wars and fightings among you come from? Do not they come from your pleasures that war in your members? 2 You lust, and do not have. You kill, covet, and cannot obtain. You fight and make war. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask, and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit which he made to dwell in us yearns jealously?" 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." 7 Be subject therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament, mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will exalt you."

COMMENTS: The conflicts and struggles within ourselves and with others around us are the product of worldly desires that we must continually defeat through seeking the power of the Holy Spirit. And when we offer prayers of petition to the Lord, we will not receive the peace that the answer should bring if we have asked with wrong motives involving selfish desires.

Psalms 66 "18 If I cherished sin in my heart, the Lord wouldn't have listened. 19 But most certainly, God has listened. He has heard the voice of my prayer. 20 Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer, nor his loving kindness from me."

1 John 5 "14 This is the boldness which we have toward him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he listens to us."

James used the term adulterers for those who do not show a commitment of distinct fidelity to the Lord, to illustrate that coveting rich benefits from the world system makes a person an enemy to God by not being faithful as the bride of Christ. The Ten Commandments speak of a jealous God who will bring the consequences of the hateful iniquity of worshipping other "gods" even down upon subsequent generations; but His loving kindness is graciously given to thousands who love God and keep his commandments.

Exodus 20 "3 You shall have no other gods before me. 4 you shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments."

A very powerful pagan king was severely humbled by the LORD; and at the end of his trial, he gave a remarkable testimony to honor the Most High who lives forever! Another Old Testament passage shows that anyone who claims to believe in the "high and lofty One who inhabits eternity" as described by Isaiah, must have a contrite and humble spirit before the LORD.

Daniel 4 "34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him who lives forever. For his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from generation to generation. 35 All the inhabitants of the earth are regarded as nothing; and he does according to his will in the host of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or tell him, "What have you done?" 36 At the same time my understanding returned to me; and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me; and my counselors and my lords sought me out; and I was established in my kingdom, and even more greatness was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven; for all his works are truth, and his ways justice; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble."

Isaiah 57 "15 For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.""

James strongly advised believers to draw near to God by putting off any worthless works done by their own hands; and to purify their hearts toward God so He would draw near to them. When a person is aware of Christ Jesus as the only way to salvation, they should lament and weep over the weakness that allows sin to enter into their life. devoted Love of the things of this world bring worthless feelings of joy. In humility, give praise to the Lord of lords, and he will lift you up as a vessel of His mercy and grace.


B - JUDGMENT OF THE SOUL BELONGS ONLY TO THE LORD

James 4 "11 Do not speak against one another, brothers. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge. 12 Only one is the lawgiver and judge, who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? 13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow let us go into this city, and spend a year there, trade, and make a profit." 14 Whereas you do not know what tomorrow will be like. What is your life? For you are a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 For you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will both live, and do this or that." 16 But now you glory in your boasting. All such boasting is evil. 17 To him therefore who knows to do good, and does not do it, to him it is sin."

COMMENTS: James cautioned his readers not to criticize other Christians about whether or not they are following God's law. That would make you a judge of the law, and of your neighbor; rather than being responsible as a doer of the law yourself. The LORD is the only law giver, and the judge who has the power and authority to save or destroy. Each person needs to think about what they say whether it gives evidence of humble trust day by day in the Lord, or whether it has the sound of pride as though you know what you will accomplish in the coming months or years. In the sight of God our lives are like a vapor that appears briefly, then vanishes away by His plans. Consider how prideful boasting of your own accomplishments is evil before the LORD who provides all blessings. Whoever knows to do good in any manner, and does not do it, is sinning before the LORD.


C - THE PRIDEFUL RICH WILL SUFFER GREAT LOSS

James 5 "1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming on you. 2 Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be for a testimony against you, and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up your treasure in the last days. 4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you have kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of those who reaped have entered into the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived delicately on the earth, and taken your pleasure. You have nourished your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned, you have murdered the righteous one. He does not resist you. 7 Be patient therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it, until it receives the early and late rain. 8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Do not grumble, brothers, against one another, so that you won't be judged. Behold, the judge stands at the door. 10 Take, brothers, for an example of suffering anThose who have laid up mounds of treasure only on earth, will have nothing to awaiting for them in heaven. d of patience, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we call them blessed who endured. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the Lord in the outcome, and how the Lord is full of compassion and mercy."

COMMENTS: There may be few prideful and harshly unfair rich men who would directly benefit by understanding and repenting to avoid what awaits them; but knowing the condemnation of the unbelieving wealthy as James described, definitely could encourage believers to endure harsh and unfair treatment by keeping their mind set on the reward of new life in heaven. James wrote that the cries for relief have entered into the ears of the Lord of hosts. The cruel rich men have taken part in a retrospective sense, in the condemnation and murder of the Righteous One who did not resist even unto death. His righteousness is a gift to those who draw near to Him. For those brethren who suffer in this life, James gives the reminder that they should be patient and establish their heart until the coming of the Lord, considering that time to be drawing near! That time is set by the Lord, just as He has set the cycle of planting and harvesting of crops. Believers should be careful not to grumble with each other, though waiting through our own life cycle can be trying. Job is an example of a man who was worn down by extreme trials of life, but when he finally was directly confronted, he repented of his sin of grumbling about the LORD. The blessings through the remainder of Job's life on earth can serve to illustrate the superior and everlasting life in heaven that awaits everyone who has placed steadfast faith in Christ Jesus.


D - A SINNER TURNED FROM ERROR WILL RECEIVE SOUL SALVATION

James 5 "12 But above all things, my brothers, do not swear, neither by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath; but let your "yes" be "yes," and your "no," "no"; so that you do not fall under judgment. 13 Is any among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praises. 14 Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, 15 and the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous person is powerfully effective. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 He prayed again, and the sky gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit. 19 My brothers, if any among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins."

COMMENTS: James emphasized the importance of the words of the Lord as recorded in the gospel of Matthew, though he did not attribute those words directly to Jesus. And I have inserted a verse from Leviticus as a reference before the verses spoken by Jesus.

Leviticus 19 "12 you shall not swear by my name falsely, and profane the name of your God. I am the LORD."

Matthew 5 "33 Again you have heard that it was said to them of old time, 'You shall not make false vows, but shall perform to the Lord your vows,' 34 but I tell you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God; 35 nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shall you swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No' be 'No.' Whatever is more than these is of the evil one."

James advised believers to pray in times of suffering and to sing praise in times of joy; and to ask others to join in prayer for healing from sickness. A prayer in faith to the Lord's for healing will be answered according to His will. If there is sin genuinely confessed as part of the request to the Lord, the sin will be forgiven. Therefore, it is important to confess sin with each other and to pray together in faith, believing that prayers offered in a righteous manner are powerfully effective. Elijah the prophet had a nature like all men, and his prayer for the purposes of God brought a drought for three and a half years, which then was ended by another prayer.

1 Kings 17 "1 Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the foreigners of Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word." 2 The word of the LORD came to him, saying, 3 Go away from here, turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, that is before the Jordan. 4 It shall be, that you shall drink of the brook. I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.""

1 Kings 18 "1 It happened after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, "Go, show yourself to Ahab; and I will send rain on the earth." 2 Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. The famine was severe in Samaria."

1 Kings 18 "41 Elijah said to Ahab, "Get up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain." 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he bowed himself down on the earth, and put his face between his knees. 43 He said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea." He went up, and looked, and said, "There is nothing." He said, "Go again" seven times. 44 It happened at the seventh time, that he said, "Behold, a small cloud, like a man's hand, is rising out of the sea." He said, "Go up, tell Ahab, 'Get ready and go down, so that the rain doesn't stop you.'" 45 It happened in a little while, that the sky grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. 46 The hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he tucked his cloak into his belt and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel."

James closed his letter with a very important point about the gracious blessing that is shared among believers. If anyone helps another return to the truth after wandering away, the soul of the one who has returned has been saved, and a multitude of sins has been covered.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, I thank you for your grace that strengthens my faith in the eternal life you have given to me. I want to always praise you when I use gifts of good works you have designed for me that I may honor your name, and build up the body of Christ as I interact with other believers. Lord, you fashion differing good works for every believer that combine for your purposes. Keep me from judging other believers or non-believers as you are the judge of all the earth. Give me Christ honoring humility whether I am experiencing trials or blessings. I want to represents the love of God available to others if they will accept Christ as their personal Savior from the wages of sin. Continue to guide me by your Spirit to do the things that will remind me of your sacrificial love, and that may shine the light of your salvation to those along my pathway as long as I remain here on the present earth. All glory to my God and Savior. Amen.

Published 2 May 2020