20th September 2017

James: Week 13 (Wednesday, September 20)

(from www.insightforliving.org.uk)

 

James 5: 7-12

 

LET’S BEGIN HERE

Encouragement is often used in Christian circles to describe a kindness shown or a well-timed word. In cultures where Christianity is not threatened or perceived as threatening, the word may even lose a bit of its edge — a pity, when the crux of the word is rooted in courage. In the context of James 5:7–12, “encouragement” was exactly that: James, with his words, rallied his original audience to develop the grit — specifically the “strength of heart” — to patiently persevere in righteousness despite unjust and harsh circumstances. Two millennia later, what does it mean to be a courageous Christian? Let’s discover the answer together.

 

Getting Started: Patiently Resisting Revenge

Paying particular attention to James 5:7–12, make some initial observations about what you see. For instance, are there any repeated words? Did James use any connecting words that offer clues into what he was emphasizing? Write down your observations and discoveries.

 

Your Turn in the Scriptures

Using James 5:7–12, apply the four primary techniques — observation, interpretation, correlation, and application —in the searching the Scriptures process. Take some time first, however, to read any material you find in your commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and online tools that covers this section of James 5. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Jot notes in the margins of your Bible as you go or on a separate sheet of paper.

Observation: What do you see? Use the space below to record your findings as you look closely at the text. Remember: Look for repeated words, commands, questions, emphatic statements, and images or figures of speech. Make your notes as specific as possible at this stage.

James 5:7– 9

James 5:10–12

Interpretation: What does it mean? James 5:1– 6 was addressed to “you rich,” but James’ audience changed to “brethren” beginning in verse 7. You should definitely perk up at this point, because James’ advice definitely applies to all Christians. Here are some universal principles that James proffered as encouragement:

• Patience is a virtue that should mark all Christians.

• Our hearts are strengthened during times of patient suffering when we know that the Lord’s coming is near. Vengeance belongs to God, and in the Day of

the Lord, all wrongs will be made right (Obadiah 1:15).

• When we are wronged, we lean into God. We still trust in God’s compassion and mercy, like Job did.

• Don’t use God’s name to cosign your own agenda (taking an oath). James 5:7–12

What concepts are illustrated in the metaphor of the farmer? Specifically, how does one wait for rain? Who brings the rain? What are two circumstances James mentioned as worthy of judgment? (See verses 9 and 12.) What are some ways that the prophets serve as examples of suffering and patience? What is the link between patience and swearing oaths? Is swearing an oath a form of “playing God”?

Correlation: How does it compare? Read the following passages, and write a note or two as to how they help confirm the meaning of James 5:7–12.

Genesis 50:20

Psalm 55:22

Romans 8:18

Romans 8:28

2 Corinthians 4:17–18

SERMON NOTE Waiting . . . suffering. These two topics can be challenging to teach, especially in cultures that value do-ityourself comfort, convenience, and immediacy. Young people growing up in a “right-now” culture are most

prone to instants: instant fame, instant wealth, instant answers. How would you communicate the message of James 5:7–12 to a group of teenagers? How would you define suffering? What would you emphasize as their biggest challenges? What encouragement would you offer this generation? Some encouragement might be:

• The interconnectedness of this generation creates new opportunities to support persecuted and suffering Christians and to pray for both local and global challenges to the church.

• This generation is passionate about justice and compassion. They can follow the example of the prophets by speaking out against those who have “condemned

and put to death the righteous” (James 5:6) and by demonstrating the compassion and mercy of God (5:11) to those in need.

• While cyberbullying and social media revenge are popular responses to mistreatment, a Christian stands out as godly when he or she shows restraint online.

Application: What difference does it make? When you’ve been wronged, don’t ruminate endlessly on the situation, or you’ll be consistently angry. Don’t

focus on yourself, or you’ll be filled with self-pity. Don’t focus on someone to blame, or you’ll complain —a fruitless endeavor. Don’t focus solely on the present circumstances. Instead, practice patience. Be strong and stay objective, as much as you’re able, by realizing that God’s purposes in present circumstances may not be immediately clear. Insight doesn’t usually come until later.

In the space below, write out a few specific personalized applications (responses) to what you have studied in James 5:7–12.

 

A FINAL PRAYER

Thank You, Father, for being full of compassion and mercy. I am amazed by You. Though You are holy and I am a sinner, You didn’t seek revenge or judgment, but in Your compassion, You rescued me. Because You have given me life, forgiveness, and mercy, I pray that You will help me to extend compassion and mercy to others. Help me to turn over to You any vengeful desires. May I find favor in Your sight by serving others with patience and kindness. I trust that in Your time, You will make all things new. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


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