Effective prayers, offered at the throne of grace, bring life
James 5 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! 4 Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. 5 You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.
7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. 8 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. 10 As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.
12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer [l]offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.
19 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one 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.
In today’s text it says: Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. Many people in the church today do in fact complain against brethren. They complain about and against leaders in the church. They criticize; judge; complain about and against those who have differing preferences or doctrines. It is sad how many people there are who believe they are demonstrating the love of God to the world, while they are critical, judgmental and complain against other believers. In John 13:34-35 Jesus says: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” If we do not love other believers, other people in whom the very Spirit of God resides, how will the world know we are disciples of Christ? If they do not recognize us as His disciples, then what is the message of the love we show them? Is it the love of God or the love of the world?
Beyond the unclear message we speak to the world, James says that in complaining against other believers we also bring judgment on ourselves. Jesus words also affirm what this says. In Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus says: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Jesus says that in judgment; complaining about others, we will be held to the same standard of judgment. How many of us would be ready to stand before God and point out the shortcomings of others, knowing God Himself would then hold us accountable for every shortcoming in our own lives? Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven. But there are two thrones which they occupy. When we judge and complain about others, we come before them at the judgment seat of Christ, we then will be judged by our own standard of measure. Hebrews 4:16 says: Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. We should instead, in mercy and grace, bring others before the throne of grace. Where, there is help for every need, both theirs and ours.
Today’s text ends saying: My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 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. We need to fully understand and apply what Jesus says in Matthew 7. We are not to judge others. But in agreement with what James says, after we are certain that we have removed the log from our own eye, we can see clearly to help our brother. We are not to judge, but we are to help turn others, whether a fellow believer or those in the world, from the error of sin. James lets us know that sin causes death. In John 10:10 Jesus says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” There is a wonderful service available to people who are dying. Hospice provides comfort and love to those who are terminally ill and also to their families. But spiritually we are not to provide hospice care to those who are dying. We should not love and comfort them in their sin while their souls are dying. Jesus came to bring life and we should be those who point others to the life that He brings. We should not judge, but rather in love, making certain that we see clearly, through mercy and grace, we should be those who turn sinners from the error of their way, that they may have life in Christ.
James says: Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Effective prayers, prayed by righteous people, whether for physical or spiritual healing, are prayers offered at the throne of grace where: we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit for the love and grace of the cross. May I never judge others, but in love, may I never comfort them as they die spiritually. May I always bring every need to Your throne of grace. Having cleared my sight, to see others from the place of grace, may I speak life to those who are dying in sin. Amen.