Genuine Healing

The Book of James deals with genuineness in the Christian life.  In his final instructions, James addresses three groups of people: the persecuted, the happy, and the sick (James 5:13-20).

The word translated “afflicted” refers to the hardship of persecution (v. 13). The apostle instructs the persecuted to pray.  There is no promise that the suffering will stop, but as a saint prays, the persecuted receives new strength from the Lord to endure the hardship faithfully.

To those who are “happy,” James says they should “sing psalms of praise.”  Notice that psalms are not “blue-bird-on-my-shoulder” songs, but songs about the faithfulness of God.

The word translated “sick” does not refer to colds or the flu, but to a disabling illness.  Notice that it is the sick person’s responsibility to call the elders!  The elders do not possess the gift of mental telepathy; they cannot read our minds!  A literal translation of verse 14 is important: “having anointed him with oil, let them pray over him.”  There are two different words often translated “anoint.”  In this verse, the word refers to applying medicine.  Taking one’s medicine precedes time spent in prayer!  The results of healing are then left in the Lord’s hand.

Notice that healing in this passage is more than physical.  It includes spiritual and psychological healing as well.  Often there is a direct relationship between personal sins and physical diseases, e.g. smoking and lung cancer.  The prayer of faith first of all cleanses one from sin within before healing.

James gives four principles for healing.  First, confession of sin is healthy—do it.  Only full confession can lead to full restoration.  Second, praying for others is essential—practice it.  Third, medical assistance is imperative—obey it.  Fourth, when healing comes, praise God for it.

Saint Patrick

Patrisaint_patrickck was born Patricius in Roman Britain to a wealthy family.  When he was a teenager, Patrick was kidnapped and sold as a slave to an Irish warlord.  Six years later, he escaped.

After he returned home, Patrick started studying for the priesthood.  But his six years of slavery put him permanently behind his peers in school.  During his studies, Patrick received God’s call to evangelize the Irish, who still practiced human sacrifice and slavery.

Patrick preached the Gospel for thirty years in Ireland.  By the end of his ministry, the Irish abandoned human sacrifice and slavery.

Patrick became the saint of the downtrodden and the excluded.  Patrick preached against slavery when the Pope refused to condemn slavery.  While his contemporary, St. Augustine, spoke of women as the personification of temptation, Patrick honored women as persons of great worth to the Kingdom of Christ.  Thomas Cahill said, “Patrick is the first male Christian since Jesus to speak well of women.”

Patrick first gave himself to Christ.  Then Patrick followed Christ by giving himself to those who enslaved him.  Through his love and life example, Patrick led the Irish to Christ.

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen,” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Genuine Riches

“Your riches are corrupted,” (James 5:2).

The Book of James teaches that genuine wealth is not found in money (verses 1-6).  The Apostle is not condemning making or accumulating wealth, per se.  What the Apostle condemns is ill-gotten gains on the backs of the poor and a person’s absolute trust in those riches.

First, hoarded wealth is destructive.  When the accumulation of wealth is one’s ultimate goal, it will be a hollow victory.  Wealth has a way of corrupting a person or of disappearing like rust to metal.   The Great Depression, the Great Recession, Runaway Interests, the Mortgage Meltdown, etc, all point to the fact that material wealth can disappear in an instant.  If all you’re trusting in is your financial portfolio, where will you be if it all disappears?

Second, tainted wealth can be confiscated (verse 4).  Even Christians can get caught up in the whirlwind of fraud, all to accumulate that million-dollar portfolio.  The Bible teaches that Christians who get their wealth by fraudulent means will be judged by Him.

Third, self-indulgent wealth is enjoyable for a season, but God will be the judge of whether you deserved it or not.  The Apostle does not condemn vacations or retreats.  What God condemns is wasting His blessings solely on self.  God blesses us to bless others, not indulge ourselves.

How we accumulate and spend our finances is important.  The Bible extols hard work and God blesses honest labor.  God will not bless get-rich-quick schemes.  God wants us to depend on Him, not just our ingenuity.

Where is your trust?  Is your trust in God, or in cold, hard cash?

Genuine Relationship with God

“Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God,” (James 4:4).

The fourth chapter of the Book of James concerns the genuineness of one’s relationship with God.  A right relationship with God teaches us how to relate to others differently.   We no longer act the way the world taught us to act.  Changing a behavior pattern learned over tens of years is difficult, but not insurmountable.

Instead of fighting, we pray (verse 3).  God teaches us that it is better to wrestle with Him in prayer than to wrangle with men.  God can do more through prayer than we can through fighting.

Instead of lusting and envying after worldly things, we can find contentment where we are in our journey with God.  That does not mean that we stop and retreat forever.  It just means that we enjoy the scenery as we journey through life.  God’s Spirit will not dwell where there is worldly lust (verse 5).

Instead of being conceited and looking out for number one, we need to be more interested in God’s Kingdom and will (verse 8).

Instead of criticizing and tearing people down, we should encourage and build people up (verse 11).

Instead of living our plans, we should live and do God’s will.

Genuine humility is swallowing my preferences to obey God’s will.  “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (verse 17).