October 30, 2011

Monday after the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps.89:1-19, I Kings21:11-22, James 4:13-5:11
Evening - Ps 92, Job 28:12, Mt. 16:13

Commentary
James 4:13-5:11

Continuing in the subject of the difference between "doers of the word" and "hearers only," 4:13-17 shows that hearers only are primarily concerned about money and the comforts and pleasures it can buy. They are worldly rather than Godly. James is not talking here about the openly profane, or about those who use questionable tactics in business. He is talking about people who profess Christ, but whose faith does not move them toward God and Godliness. These people claim to be Christians, but go through life with little care or thought for God. Though such people may be very moral, James says their actions are evil (4:16). In this uncertain world, goods, and even their lives can be taken away from them at any moment (4:14), therefore they should be more concerned about knowing God and seeking Him in all of life, including their business ventures (4:15). They know this, yet do not practice it, thus, they sin (4:17).

In 5:1-6, James turns to the perils of wealth and the evil into which it has led many people. The point of verses 1-3 is that wealth is easily lost. Verses 4-6 show the evil men do to obtain and keep wealth. 7-11 call Christians, and those who have been "hearers only" to turn their attention to the Lord, waiting for the promises of God as the farmer waits for the rains and the harvest (5:7-8). He gives the Old Testament prophets as examples of patient faith, who endured rejection and persecution from their own people, just as Jewish Christians were experiencing in James' time (5:10). He calls Job to their minds as an example of one who, though suffering grief and poverty, remained faithful to God, thus, possessing the greater wealth of God's love and mercy (5:11). The point, of course, is that the Jews who were suffering persecution and loss for the sake of Christ also possess wealth that cannot perish, and even death can't steal, through the tender mercy of the Lord.