Henry Mahan Lessons in James Lesson 13

Lesson 13
James 5:7-12

Henry Mahan

(Vs. 7.) When the apostle addressed the rich professors of religion who lived in luxury and greed, kept back the honest wages of their servants and treasured up gold and silver instead of using it for the glory of God and the good of men, he did not call them brethren. Here he addresses the poor who were oppressed by the rich, and these he calls "brethren"! He advises them to "be patient" under their suffering and afflictions until death or the coming of the Lord, when he will take vengeance on all their oppressors and deliver them from all their troubles. While we are on earth the Lord would have us to hear our trials patiently, not murmur against his providence, nor seek vengeance on men (Rom. 12:19-21; Heb. 10:30, 31). "Be like the farmer who sows precious seed and then waits patiently and expectantly for the harvest." He waits for the early rains and the latter rains. He does not fret because the earth does not immediately yield the ripe fruit.

(Vs. 8.) Like the farmer who waits patiently for all the means that are necessary for a full and fruitful harvest, let us wait patiently for the means of divine grace which are necessary to try our faith, work God"s will and bring forth the ripe fruit of grace. Our Lord is mindful of our situation and circumstances. They will all work together for our good (Rom. 8:28).

"Establish your hearts," which are prone to doubt, to fear and to question God"s love and providence (Ps. 103:13, 14). The heart is established by the Word of God, prayer, gospel ordinances and the fellowship and encouragement of other believers. We must make use of these in order to take heart, be of good cheer and not be discouraged or dismayed. "Lift up your heads and hearts for the coming of the Lord draweth near!" At his coming we shall enter into the joys of our Lord and be for ever free from all sin, sorrow and suffering (Rev. 21:1-7).

(Vs. 9.) "Grudge not against one another." Complain not against one another on account of another"s happiness, gift or prosperity (either temporal or spiritual). "A man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven." Do not envy one another or secretly complain and condemn one another, lest you be condemned openly at the bar of God by the Judge of the whole earth, who looks upon the heart and is aware of the murmurings, grumblings and envious thoughts of men (1 Sam. 16:7).

Don"t set yourself up as a judge of men or your own state. There is but one Judge of all the earth, and he is at the door. He is just and righteous and will set all things right.

(Vs. 10.) "Look upon the prophets. They walked with God, were highly favoured of God; God revealed the mysteries of his will to them, and they spoke for God. Still, though they enjoyed God"s favour, they suffered much, being ridiculed, mocked, hated of men and even put to death. Their afflictions and trials were great, yet they were very patient through them. These people are examples and patterns for us! (Heb. 11:35-40; 2 Cor. 11:23-30.)

(Vs. 11.) We look back at the courage, faith and patience of these believers and call them blessed! They are happy now; the glory of God rests upon them. They felt honoured to be counted worthy to suffer for Christ"s sake. Now they are glorified with him (Matt. 10:16-22).

"You have heard especially of the patience and endurance of Job in the book that hears his name." Though he was severely tried in the loss of all temporal comforts, possessions and friends, he did not murmur against God or charge him foolishly (Job 1:21, 22). "You have also seen the Lord"s purpose in all this and how he richly blessed Job, for the Lord is full of pity, tenderness and mercy." The Lord loves his children and all that he brings to pass in their lives is for their eternal good (Job 42:10; Ps. 111:4).

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

William Cowper, 1774

(Vs. 12.) Impatience and murmuring against the providence of God should not manifest themselves in secret envy, sighs and groans. Especially they should not break forth in rash oaths, or in profane swearing.

offence (Exod. 20:7; Matt. 5:33-37). The Lord strictly commands us to reverence his holy name. Nor are we to swear by heaven or earth, because the glory of God is everywhere shining forth, and when angry men swear by heaven or earth, they only designate the Worker by his works!

It has been a common vice in all ages to find ways to curse or swear while not mentioning the name of God. Men imagine that there is no evil as long as they do not mention the name of God. This is deception and delusion, for the angry, rebellious spirit and attitude are present, whatever the words that come forth! We are not to swear out of passion, anger or habit.

There is a form of swearing that is not sinful. There are illustrations in Scripture of men who took lawful oaths in the fear of the Lord for his sanction and glory (Deut. 6:13; I Kings 17:1; Gal. 1:20; 2 Cor. 1:23). The apostle is warning against a careless, profane use of God"s name, works or kingdom in our conversation. A "yes" or "no" is usually sufficient for an honest believer; anything more than this puts us in grave danger of God"s wrath.

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.