by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Study # 74 March 3, 1999 Harlingen, Texas
Thesis:As believers, we must commit to the faithful practice of submissive prayer and await the coming of the Lord.
Introduction:Last week we looked a second time at James' warning to the wealthy. We have noted over and over that James' intent was to deflect the believers from a course of the pursuit of wealth to a course of submissive servanthood.
His intent was NOT to generate a generation of doormats who can be used and abused by those who are willing to be unjust, but his intent WAS to produce the highest placement in joy in the eternal kingdom that is surely coming. Sometimes the two are linked--joy then (in eternity) requiring a doormat style now (in time). But there are clearly some limits that are hinted at in several ways. For instance, the apostle Paul did not hesitate to refuse the perverters of justice to manipulate until they could kill him. A second reality is that there has been at least one culture set up along the line of no resistance--and it has killed all initiative altogether...a thing clearly contrary to the Word of God. And, there is the biblical teaching that requires believers to at least reject the unjust behavior of their own kind through the process of church discipline.
So, there is a need for us to understand what it is that James is addressing in 5:7-8 as he works off of the thesis in 5:6 that the righteous man does not resist the wicked wealthy. What are the perameters and the costs?
I. The Command of Patient Heart-Strengthened Endurance Until Justice is Established.
A. The prior contextual realities...
1. James 4:2-3.
a. The basic teaching is that prayer is the first and primary method of obtaining what we desire.
1) The promise is that properly motivated prayer will result in reception of the thing sought.
a) This does NOT mean that we will do nothing--1:5 indicates that God imparts wisdom as to HOW we should act in a given situation.
b) NOR does this mean that we MUST do something--sometimes the HOW is to do nothing.
2) A lack of divine response in the affirmative means that we must evaluate what drives the request.
b. The primary implication is that the believer will resort first to prayer and not pursue anything without divine wisdom.
2. James 5:4.
a. The basic statement is that the believers who have suffered injustice have let their cry ascend to the Lord of Sabaoth.
1) This is an application of the principle of 4:2-3 by the "righteous".
2) The text is silent as to whether there was any further action taken.
3. James 5:6.
a. The basic statement is that the righteous has not "drawn up in battle array" against the one perpetrating the injustice.
b. This means that the righteous have refused the temptation to resort to force to get what is due them.
B. The Prior Teachings of Jesus in Matthew 5:38-42.
1. This teaching is not what it is often presented to be.
2. There is a very pronounced concept of governmentally established practice involved.
a. The lex talionis was a fundamental principle of Law in the Theocracy.
b. Jesus' shift was given because the Theocracy had been destroyed.
c. Under "Gentile" law, much of which was perverted in terms of justice, Jesus set up different guidelines.
d. Each of the illustrations are tied to the presence of Roman law in its various forms of entrenched injustice.
3. In the face of governmentally established injustice, believers were to submit to the injustice with grace.
a. There is NOTHING here on how to respond to the injustice perpetrated by criminals.
b. There is NO rejection of the use of courts to obtain justice if that is possible.
1. The Lord of Sabaoth is intensely interested in justice just as His treatment of the wealthy reveals.
2. IF He chooses to exert His power to accomplish some degree of justice for His people in time, they will receive from His hand the benefits of justice.
3. IF for whatever reasons He chooses to permit the development of the wickedness of the evil men, His people will be required to endure by being long-suffering until He comes.