Walk This Way
Week 9: James 5:7-20
This week we conclude our study of the book of James. God’s goal for us is maturity and James provides wisdom for maturing in Christ. Mature believers endure trouble with steadfast hope. They treat people with loving fairness. They demonstrate faith with practical good works. They keep a tight rein on their tongues and submit to God’s desires. Mature believers face the future with a humble trust in God. In the final paragraphs of his letter, James will circle back to several of these important themes. He will offer strategies for facing trouble with hope, always remembering that every part of our lives is an opportunity to make Jesus known as the treasure that he is.
What has your week been like? Have you been able to see God’s opportunities for growth in your life this week?
Getting into the Text:
1. (James 5:7-9) The word ‘therefore’ in verse 7 makes a connection between this new paragraph and what James has just finished saying. What is that connection? How does the assumed fact of the coming of the Lord fuel our patient endurance in times of trouble? How should it help us not to grumble against others?
2. (James 5:10-12) James holds up Job and the prophets of the Old Testament as examples of how to suffer patiently and remain steadfast. What lessons can we learn from them? (See, for example Job 1:20-22, Lamentations 3:19-26, and Daniel 6:7-10.) How is speaking truth to ourselves and to others important for facing trouble successfully?
3. (James 5:13-18) Given the counsel to be patient and steadfast in the earlier verses, what do you think James wants his readers to pray for in these verses? What is God’s primary purpose in our trials? (Recall also James 1:2-4.) Why do you think James points out that Elijah was a man with a nature like ours? Does James see effective prayer as mostly an individual practice, a community practice, or both?
4. (James 5:19-20) The word ‘wandering’ here conveys a serious turning away from God and from former faith commitments. What do these verses reveal about God’s feelings about people who wander away from him? Why do you think James closes his letter this way?
1. It is natural in our trouble to pray for an end to the trouble. But this might cause us to miss out on the maturing God wants to do through our trial. What is causing you the most trouble right now? Pray for God to give you eyes to see how he is working for good in the middle of this. In addition to praying for relief and positive change, ask God what he wants you to know and become through this trial.
2. With the end of James’ letter in view, is there someone in your life that has wandered from the truth? God is a patient father to prodigals. (2 Peter 3:9) Can you be patient and wait on him? Don’t give up praying. Ask God to restore and to draw this person back to himself. Ask for the privilege of being a part of his plan for this person’s life.