James 5:9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
Christians need to get along. Christians need to submit to God’s authority in order to get along. In my life time, the primary method of finding agreement in most religions has been through compromise. The ecumenical movement is one of those vehicles by which this is being done. Then there is the New Evangelical movement which is also designed to dumb down doctrine and make compromise the focus. The result of this false philosophy, is a great weakening of doctrine and a great weakening of those churches that were at one time still viable. They were on shaky ground, but they could have turned around. Now they are gone. They are just social clubs. The saddest part of all this is that this spirit of compromise is taking over an element of Independent Baptist churches. The “emergent” church movement is a movement that is seeking to modernize Christianity and adapt to the CCM model. They want more modern and more feeling oriented music and preaching. There are older pastors who should know better who are falling into this trap.
I say all this to help us to see that the way of blessing is not through compromise. James has addressed several problems that the first century churches were facing. Nowhere in the book of James or anywhere else in the Bible, does God suggest that Christians should compromise to get along. In our text today, God tells the brethren not to grudge one against another. The Greek word translated as “grudge” means “to moan, or sigh or murmur”. Christians should not grudge against one another. Christians should be like iron sharpening iron. We should embrace the brother who sees the Word of God more clearly. We should not be afraid of challenging traditions. We should understand that God’s Word must be preferred above all else.
James has addressed the injustice perpetrated by the rich in the previous verses. James is not picking on the rich. We have already noted that God does not condemn riches. God expects all believers to walk humbly with Him and serve Him faithfully. When God’s people work together according to His will, great blessings will abound for the saved and they will impact the lost as well.
One of the reasons why Christians need to behave themselves is because the judge stands before the door. Revelation 2-3 record the words of the Judge that is standing before the door of seven local churches. Each one of those churches would have been wise to listen to the Judge — the Lord Jesus Christ. His demands are never unreasonable. He provides all that is needed for a local church to be strong and true to Him.
God wants lost people to know Him. They will know Him when true believers walk humbly with Him. Many people never read a Bible. They watch “Christians”. They determine what a Christian is by what they see. Many assume that false religion is good. They like it because it makes them feel good in their sin. Many people also know that false religion is an empty suit when it comes to real needs. People need more than a soup kitchen or a new winter coat or mittens. When a person is diagnosed with cancer or some other terminal illness, they need truth. They need hope. Not that long ago there was a Christian woman we know who died of cancer. Everything we heard about that woman was such a blessing. As she went through the progression of her cancer, she was able to have a good testimony of God’s care and comfort for her. Yes, she died of her cancer. God did not heal her. However, she left a testimony of hope and blessing that others can look to and see the benefit of knowing the Lord.
We know another woman who is also facing cancer. She has taken a much different approach. She has allowed the devil to fill her with hatred and she is afraid of what is ahead for her and her young children. She is destroying herself and others around her by her ungodly behaviour.
I am not in her shoes, nor was I in the other woman’s shoes. I have a Bible and that Bible tells me that when we face a challenge in life, we can face that challenge with confidence and hope if we know the Lord and walk humbly with Him. If we take the approach of those James is told to rebuke, then trouble will follow. If we listen to what James has to say and follow God’s way, we can be a blessing to others and we can also receive a blessing from the Lord.
Verse 10 addresses this matter. We can look at the prophets like Jeremiah or Ezekiel or Daniel and we can see how they dealt with challenges in their lives. They were human beings. They faced disappointment and discouragement. However, they did not stay there. They did not make that a new theology. They looked to the Lord and He brought them through those times and they could be a help to others because they listened to the Lord. They suffered affliction and they learned patience. Those who are saved today can do the same if we let God be God.
In verse 11 we see that Christians are encouraged through the faithful witness of others. God records 42 chapters in the book of Job. We read of his frustrations. We read of his unjust demands of God. We read of his useless friends. We read of God’s response to Job. Job learned some important lessons in his lifetime. God recorded all of it for us to learn some important lessons as well. We can see that God has pity on His children. He did not walk away from Job. He helped Job to get a glimpse of the bigger picture. When Job saw that, he humbled himself and God could bless him more. Job’s friends missed out, but Job left a viable testimony.
The God of Job is the same God Who was directing James. He is the same God that the brethren of James’ day needed to submit to. They needed to humble themselves and follow Him. He is still the only true God. He still knows all about what is going on. He still has all the answers to our needs. He can still bless us in every situation we face. We don’t need to find another way. God’s way works, only God’s way works.
If you want lasting joy and blessing, follow God’s way. If you want a soft, feel good way, follow man’s way. You will discover that man’s way leaves you empty, it cannot satisfy. Those who follow God’s way will find blessings that are real. God is gracious and willing to forgive those who stumble and get sidetracked. He did that for Job. He challenged Job and Job listened. Job learned the importance of trusting God even when he did not understand what God was doing. Every born again Christian will face times when he or she will not understand what God is doing. That is to be expected. Every born again Christian can learn to trust God in every situation. We do not need to grudge one against another. We can learn from those God has given us to examine. We can grow in our trust of the true God and be a help to others as we do that.
It is a choice we need to make. The brethren in the audience of James’ epistle need to listen and learn. God’s way works every time and all the time. Trust Him and submit to Him.