James 5, not unlike the first four chapters holds great wisdom.
In reading the full book of James, it’s amazing how many key scriptures are found within it’s pages. I want you to read below and notice a progression. This chapter is the culmination of a letter written by the brother of James. If you were to read the whole letter in order, instead of in chapter and verse style which was later added for clarity – you would see this.
James points out:
Praying for wisdom and understanding that God doesn’t tempt anyone.
Being a doer of the word, not just a hearer.
Anti-Favoritism. All men are to be treated in the same regard as one another, regardless of stature or wealth.
Faith without works is dead.
Taming the tongue.
Understanding of good and wicked wisdom.
Submitting yourself to God in humility.
Learning that tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone and we have no idea when Christ will return.
A warning to those that would oppress the poor.
A command for us to be patient.
But then… watch this. In verse 12 he says, Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.
What???? ABOVE ALL, do not swear? This is amazing. James just talked about amazingly important things – but he brings it all together in culmination with the commandment for us to not say things like “I swear to God.” or “I swear on my life.” This means that it is more important for us to learn to not swear upon things than it is for us to tame our tongue? or Submit ourselves to God?
Why? Because he recognizes that if we can keep ourselves from using the name of God improperly than we already understand the importance of all of those things. We recognize how righteous and worthy God is. Read this chapter and see if you agree with my assessment.
Warning to Rich Oppressors
1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.
Patience in Suffering
7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.
The Prayer of Faith
13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.