Hello Summit family!
The conclusion of James’ letter begins in verse seven of chapter five. Twice before the end of verse eight, he makes reference to the coming of the Lord. In verse eight he specifically states: “because the Lord’s coming is near.”
He has been encouraging his brothers and sisters to endure life’s trials with perseverance so they will produce a mature complete faith. It seems fair to ask this question: “Knowing that the Lord will return, how will He respond to those who have endured life’s trials with patience and a growing faith and how will He respond to those who have failed to experience a growing faith.”
Without being extremely direct, James is now challenging his reader to understand that judgment will take place. He reiterates the coming of the Lord by stating in verse nine: “The Judge is standing at the door!” It should be noted that James is speaking to followers of Christ (brothers and sisters)! The point is that there will be an inescapable judgment for us all.
Jesus taught the reality of judgement. In Matthew, he shared a parable about a “master” who went on a journey. He called his servants together and gave each of them bags of gold which he entrusted to their care. One received five bags, one received two bags and one received one bag. Upon his return, the “master” found that the servant with five bags had “produced” five more. The servant with two bags had “produced” two more, but the servant with one bag had failed to produce any “fruit” with the gold entrusted to him. Jesus shared those servants who had proven faithful with the resources their master had entrusted to them received this response: “Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things: I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.” (Matt. 25: 23)
The servant who had failed to produce any return with the resources entrusted to him heard these words: “You wicked, lazy servant! So, you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest ……Throw that worthless servant outside with the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (25: 26, 30)
We know scripture teaches our salvation is secure. This parable seems to document the exposure of someone who falsely claims to be a servant. However, this parable and the one in Luke 19 of the king and his ten servants also highlights the fact that ALL of the masters’ servants were judged according to their faithfulness.
The reality of judgment is confirmed throughout scripture. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10) “If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved – even though only as one escaping through the flames.”
(1 Corinthians 3:12-15)
In the parable in Luke, each of the ten servants received the same resources, ten minas. While Christians all have differing gifts they receive from the Holy Spirit, we have all received the same foundation: salvation, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, the gospel message, etc. The reader of James’ letter was also a follower of Christ and had received the same “gifts.”
It seems as though James is challenging them to ask these personal questions:
What have we done with these resources since receiving them?
What “fruit” have we produced for the kingdom of God?
Has our faith grown into a mature faith? Has it reached the point of being complete?
Have we grown in our holiness and maturity through the indwelling Spirit?
Do we KNOW the Word of God?
Are we intentional about being doers of the Word?
How long has it been since we told someone about Christ?
Are we exhibiting a heavenly or an earthly wisdom?
What about our tongues? Do we have them under control? James provides a final warning about the use of our tongue: “Don’t grumble (that is an action of the tongue) against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. (v9)
The Lord’s coming is near. The Lord’s coming is near!
While James draws attention to the fact that judgment is coming, he also takes advantage of the opportunity at the end of his letter to remind his reader of the blessing of being patient.
It will be my joy to share that word of encouragement next week.