7 Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. 8 You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord, is near.
9 Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door!
10 For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 We give great honor to those who endure suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him in the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.
12 But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned.
13 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.
16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.
19 My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, 20 you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.
This last part of James makes a decisive turn inward to the members of the community of faith with an address that is both positive and encouraging.
While the thought of confessing our sins can make our hearts race and stomach ache, confessing sin brings healing to our sin-sick souls. Imagine having strep throat. Hiding your symptoms would only allow the sickness to keep growing and affect other parts of your body. When you have strep throat, you need to see a doctor. Hiding sin doesn’t make it go away either.
Confessing to God sets our focus on Jesus and off of the sin. When we confess our sin, we rely on His forgiveness and thank Him for it. Confession removes what is standing between Jesus and us.
Confessing sin takes courage. As we fight past the fear and become vulnerable with each other, something special happens. After we have been healed, we are in a position to offer powerful and effective prayers to others.
God heals us and works through us to heal others. Confession and prayer aren't for bad people; they're for ALL people.
From the beginning of this letter to its closing, James witnesses to a way of life that is radically different from the world we are set in. By sketching out a vision of a world different from the one we are living (filled with arrogance, envy, self-righteousness, taking advantage of others, or thinking that just by thinking the right things is enough), James offers the alternate possibility for Christians to enter into conversation with others to help turn our lives around to a vision of gift-giving based on an ethic of peace instead of competition and polarization. In other words, may the people who witness our faith in action, see a glimpse of the Kingdom of God in how we conduct ourselves.
- Is there a sin you need to confess?
- Are you someone others can trust with their confession? If not, what is hindering you from being that person?
Awesome God, the great I AM, we come before You with song and sorrow. We anoint each other, not out of a sense of controlling You, but inviting ourselves to again be in union with You and seek Your will for our lives together. We praise You because You are, always were and always will be there for us. Raise us up and forgive our sins of omission and commission that we might live lives that show the world a glimpse of Your Kingdom yet to come in its entirety. In the mighty and powerful name of Jesus. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.