Advertisements abound in magazines, on the internet, and on television. “Make this investment!” “Prepare your portfolio!” “Buy gold.” “Diversify.” “Protect your riches, your retirement, your way of life!”
I believe in being a wise steward, but the fifth chapter of James begins with a warning to those who put riches first. While being well off is not a sin, making riches a priority over God is. It is clear from the scathing remarks in verses one through six that riches will not get me where I want to go.
After that warning, though, James offers some advice to believers (I know the advice is to believers because he called them ‘brothers’). His advice is for the time before the coming of the Lord, time that scripture tells us will become more and more challenging. Timely advice for sure.
Be patient. Twice in verses seven and eight, James tells believers to be patient. Be patient as we wait for Christ’s return. Do not get caught up in frenzy or fright. Do not give up on God. Wait. God knows what He is doing, and He will be on time.
Establish your heart. Make it firm or determined. Set it in a state of permanence. Set your heart on God and His word, and do not be swayed by the philosophies and arguments of this world.
Grudge not one against another. Time is too short for pettiness and self-centered thinking. Let go of the hard feelings. Forgive.
Endure. Stand fast. Do not give up! We have the examples of God’s people in the Bible to encourage us in hard times. There will be suffering and affliction. Think of Joseph and Paul. Remember Jesus! “Behold, we count them happy which endure.” James 5:11
Swear not. Watch your words. James spent most of chapter three describing and warning about problems with the tongue. Here he makes it short. Don’t swear. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. The more we justify or quantify, the more we open ourselves up to wrong speaking.
Pray. If you are sick or afflicted, pray. If you need wisdom, ask. Prayer opens our heart to the Father, and our ears to His heart. Pray, and let your brothers and sisters in Christ pray with you.
Confess. Now is not a time to harbor sin in our hearts. Nor is it a time to try to paint a picture of piety. This is the time to be real before God and with our fellow believers.
I do not know when Christ will return, but I know He will. If He tarries until after I am called Home in death, I will still have lived through my last days. No matter what, this is the time to hold closely to Him and to stand for Him. A line in the song “In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty says it well:
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.
God help me to stand firmly grounded in Him.
I Thessalonians 5:10
Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. (NLT)
I Peter 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
Photo – Eyes on the Sky, Beth Mims