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James: How to Obtain Harmony Among Brethen
by Stan L. Caldwell

LIFT UP THE AFFLICTED, MERRY. AND THE SICK JAMES 5:13-18

For there to be peace and happiness and spiritual strength among God's children, there must be great concern for one another. James, in these few verses, stresses three seemingly spiritual conditions in which brethren find themselves.

I. AFFLICTED: Paul tells us that "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12). There will always be some form of persecution against the people of God. This, sad to say, at times comes from within the body of Christ but more often from without. In a wicked and sinful generation it is often hard to live godly before those about us without feeling the pressure in the form of outward bodily hurt (as Stephen did) or inner mental anguish (as Paul suffered so often as a result of his preaching). Many Christians, as a result of their devotion to the Lord, suffer evil and hardships at home or on the job or in school or in social activities. What can the Christian do? There are two choices often made. One can blame God or one can ask God for wisdom and help. James admonished us in chapter one verse five to ask for wisdom. Here he shows that the proper attitude of the sufferer is one of worship "Let him pray. " We should encourage such in all of us.

II. MERRY: Next James tells us of an opposite emotion that we may have as Christians. When we count our many spiritual blessings we cannot help but rejoice in Christ Jesus. In Christ we find "all spiritual blessings" (Eph. 1:3). Jesus died for me and promised me forgiveness of my sins if I obey Him. He promised to prepare a place for me eternally and has shown me in His word how I may be of use to Him and to others in this life on earth. It is God who created me and does sustain me. How can I help but rejoice no matter what comes when I think on these things? Paul even in prison in Acts 16 with Silas could not help but rejoice after being beaten. What should a man do when he is "on a spiritual high" as some might say when he is glad to be alive and to count God as his Father and Jesus as his elder brother and the Holy Spirit as his guide? Paul and Silas at midnight prayed and sang praises unto God. James tells us to let such a Christian "sing psalms". Let him express his joy in song.

III. SICK: Some see this as physical sickness. If such be the case it must be limited to the day of miracles for they were to call for the elders of the church and by prayer and anointing with oil the brother would be raised up. It seems to me James is speaking of spiritual matters and conditions in which we find ourselves. Here it seems he is saying we may find ourselves weak spiritually or weary in well doing or having committed sin burdened with guilt. When this is the case prayer is needed and encouragement that may come from other spiritually minded individuals and who better than "the elders of the church". Let them pray for us that we may gain strength and forgiveness. May we ever be mindful of one another and help each other!

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