A Quick Summary Of James 4:13-5:20

In James’ concluding words, we are reminded to align our purposes with God’s and be patient in our perseverance and love for others. We’d love to hear what are your key takeaways from this book!

 

When Someone Goes Astray

Day 30 | Today’s passage: James 5:19-20 | Historical context of James

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.

The first time I met my friend, she told me that she had accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior when she was six. But when I encouraged her to come to church regularly, she shifted with embarrassment and told me she was struggling with an addiction, and wanted to straighten out her life before finding God again.

We kept in touch. Three years down the road, she still struggles with the addiction as well as a series of other bad life choices. Every time we talk, she tries to convince me she’s turning her life around. But each time, I see more of the pain (both physically and emotionally) that her choices are bringing her.

Do you know anyone who has, to quote James, “wandered from the truth”? Sometimes people walk away from a doctrinal belief in God and His gospel; other times, someone might believe all the right things, but no longer live by them.
My friend, for example, confesses Jesus as her Lord and Savior—but you would never know it from the way she lives.

As James emphasizes throughout his letter, God does not desire merely our superficial confession of Him. He wants us to live out the gospel in our lives.

But that’s not all. He also wants us to watch out for our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we see a fellow Christian wandering from the truth, whether in thought or in deed, James exhorts that “someone should bring that person back” (v. 19).

To encourage us in seeking wandering souls, James reminds us that “whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (v. 20).

For sins to be “covered over” means that God will forgive the sins (Romans 4:7). There is no sin too great for Christ’s sacrifice. When we restore a brother or sister, whatever their sin may be, God’s forgiveness is more than able to save them from spiritual death. What can be greater than a renewed life in Christ? And to think that God allows us to play a part in His amazing work of restoration!

But how do we turn a wanderer back to God?

We can love. We seek to love others just as Christ loves us, which is precisely why we seek to bring them back to Him (John 15:12). Sincerely loving our brothers and sisters prevents us from falling into the sin of judgmentalism or gossip. When we love, we will seek to maintain a meaningful relationship through which perhaps God would be pleased to work.

We can pray—regularly and passionately. Ultimately, it is not our clever arguments or sincere words that change a person’s mind. Rather, it is God’s Spirit moving in the deep recesses of the heart that brings a wanderer back, and by prayer we bring our petitions directly to God, who loves the person more completely than we ever can.

We can lovingly confront a person who has turned away from God. Our love forbids us from being an observer on the sidelines, watching passively, while someone forfeits their soul. In talking with someone whose actions are contrary to God, we “do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as [we] would a fellow believer” (2 Thessalonians 3:15), lovingly and prayerfully.

God desires that we live out the gospel in our daily life, and is grieved when any one of us turns away. As brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s commit to hold one another accountable because of the love we have for God and for each other. In everything we do, may we act out of love and wholly depend on God’s grace and leading, trusting that He will continue to work in the lives of all who belong to Him.

—Christine Emmert, USA

Questions for reflection

1. Do you know anyone who has turned away from God? What are some possible signs of a person wandering away from the truth?

2. What is one step you can take to restore the brother/sister who has gone astray?

3. What is one truth from God’s word that you can take to heart in this process of restoration?


Christine is a follower of Christ, and a lover of good books and food. Life is good, she insists, and each new breath is a reminder that whatever the circumstances, God is still good. Her husband and her are trying to build a family that seeks Christ and serves as light and salt among the nations. Ezra 7:10 is her favorite verse.

Read 30-day James Devotional

What do You Pray About?

Day 29 | Today’s passage: James 5:13-18 | Historical context of James

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.

What do you usually pray for or talk to God about?

I guess our prayers could be likened to the conversations we have.
The depth of our conversations reflects the depth of our relationships—what we choose to share and how we do so sheds light on the closeness of each relationship.
For instance, a conversation with a colleague would probably differ greatly from a conversation with a close friend.

Likewise, what and how we pray reflects our inner spiritual condition and how we’re doing in our relationship with God.

James addresses this in this passage as he speaks firstly of how we, as Christians, ought to respond in the different situations of life (vv. 13-15). When we are overwhelmed by the troubles and sorrows of life, we are to pray for wisdom amid the trials (1:2-5)—that we may see trials as an opportunity for great joy and a means to cultivate perseverance as we remember God’s sovereignty through it all. God knows what He is doing, and we can take heart in knowing that He will work out His good purposes even in the most terrible of situations.

When we are happy or in good spirits, we are to sing and praise God as we count our blessings and acknowledge that all good things come from our good Father (v. 13).

When we are sick, we are to call upon the elders of the church to pray over us, trusting that the “prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well” (v. 15). We could also take the opportunity to examine our hearts for any hidden sins and confess them before God.

But what is a “prayer offered in faith”? How does one pray such a prayer of faith?

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”. A prayer made in faith is thus one that is made based on God’s promises and with the conviction that God will keep His word and fulfill it in His good timing. When we approach God in this manner, it brings great joy to His heart.

In verses 15-16, James stresses the importance of the confession of sin in prayer. We are to confess our sins to each other and pray for each other so that healing would take place (v. 16). James goes on to speak of the “righteous man” whose prayer is powerful and effective (v. 17). He is not referring to the self-righteous person who places his confidence in his accomplishments and good deeds; rather, he is referring to the humble person who recognizes God’s saving grace and mercy in his life and places his trust in the work and words of Christ alone.

The prophet Elijah, James says, is one such example to follow (1 Kings 17-18). And before we can protest that Elijah was in a different league, James quickly reminds us that Elijah was “a man just like us” (v. 17). Just like us, he had fears, insecurities, doubts and worries—even till the point where he wearied of life and prayed that God would take his life (1 Kings 19:4).
Yet Elijah knew his God and the Word. He took God’s promises to heart and trusted that God would fulfill His promises in His own perfect timing—which led to his passionate, faith-filled prayers (vv. 17-18)

Where does this leave us?

As we relate with God here on this side of eternity, we can grow in knowing Him and His promises through the reading of His Word. As we get acquainted with God’s promises, this will radically transform the way we pray. We will start praying prayers of faith that are based on the promises He has made to us, and we will be able to do so boldly—asking God to fulfill His promises in His own good and perfect timing.

Let’s start praying prayers of faith!

—Lydia Tan, Singapore

Questions for reflection

1. Take a moment to reflect on the prayers you’ve made recently. Were they prayers of faith . . . or were they more like prayers of desperation?

2. What is one thing you can change about the way you pray?

3. Write down a promise of God that you will include in your prayers today.

Hand-lettering by Rachel Tu


Lydia is an eternal optimist. Nothing seems to ever get her down, except maybe the thought of vegetables or needles. She’s happiest when she’s with people, puppies or preschoolers and appreciates the deep life lessons she learns while observing or interacting with them. She has a weakness for dark chocolates and pretty little trinkets (especially if they’re handmade!) and believes that there is beauty in the ‘impractical’.
A dreamer at heart, she is excited to be a part of God’s dream for the nations and loves tagging along with Him on the many adventures across continents. While not in action, she relishes in the simple slow walks with God in nature too.

Read 30-day James Devotional

Do We Take Our Words Seriously?

Day 28 | Today’s passage: James 5:12 | Historical context of James

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.

A few years ago, I was serving at Sunday school. One day, the head teacher asked if I could help transcribe kids’ praise songs onto manila cardboards, to be used in future sessions. I readily agreed to complete the task in a few weeks. But I didn’t do it.

Months later, the teacher asked me for the signs. I had completely forgotten about it by then (to the point where I even denied her ever asking me to do it). For days, I insisted that she was wrong . . . only to later find the worship CDs, cardboards, and unused markers in a corner of my room.

In shame I returned them, the work undone and my credibility damaged. Though I had meant to complete it when I first agreed, my forgetfulness revealed that I actually didn’t give much regard to what I had said I would do.

I’m sure many of us have been careless with our words one way or another. Perhaps you had agreed to pray for a friend, but you forgot all about it. Or you could be at the receiving end, where your friends agreed to help you out at a church event but backed out at the last minute. Do we take our words seriously? Could it be that we don’t truly mean what we say?

In this passage, James is urging the reader to always be honest in our speech. It is a call for radical truthfulness in the life of every Christian. We are to be honest because we are made in the image of God. God always means what He says. No empty words ever leave His mouth, and all His promises are true and sure (2 Corinthians 1:20; Isaiah 55:11).
As God’s witnesses, do we reflect Him in this?

Or do we find ourselves making vows such as, “I swear I’ll do it!”, in order to be trusted by others? In James’ day, vows were often made to establish a person’s credibility in what was said or promised. But here, James is challenging that practice and suggesting that this should be done away with, if only we would simply keep our word at all times.

When we continually keep our promises, others will notice and recognize our integrity, and take us at our word. This trust is valuable in any situation, whether at work, studies, or in our relationships. Some people may also become curious about our truthful spirit, and it is then that we can happily point them to God and the gospel truths.

As Christians, let us intentionally choose to be honest. Whether in keeping our promises or speaking the truth in all situations, may we endeavor to honor God daily in pursuing the simple “Yes” or “No.”

—Charmain Sim, Malaysia

Questions for reflection

1. Think about the times when you didn’t believe someone’s words because you knew the person didn’t mean it. How did this affect your view of the person and his beliefs, and your trust towards him?

2. What have you learned from this verse about your speech?
In what ways can you honor God with your words?


Charmain is a dreamer and pseudo-nomad whose life is best described by Hillsong United’s “Captain”. As a daughter of a merchant navy captain, she grew up sailing the seas. She’s now settled in Singapore . . . more or less. She is learning that true discipleship is marked by daily faithfulness and obedience more than sporadic inspiration. She writes because it helps her process experiences, and also because God has called her to it. When she’s not dreaming, Charmain loves an evening in with a bowl of ice-cream, a TV show or book, and her husband.

Read 30-day James Devotional