"THE EPISTLE OF JAMES"
When You're Being Oppressed (James 5:7-12)
1. Do you feel like someone is out to get you? That they are trying to
take advantage of you? That you are being oppressed?
2. What should you do when you are oppressed? What should you NOT do?
3. In James 5, we find James giving instructions to those who appear
to have been oppressed by the rich
a. Notice Ja 2:6
b. The rich had been holding back their wages - cf. Ja 5:4
c. The rich had been oppressing the righteous - cf. Ja 5:6
-- What were the oppressed Christians to do?
4. In Ja 5:7-12 (and surrounding verses), we find principles and
instructions which should govern Christians when they are oppressed
[These principles are just as applicable today when we are oppressed by
others. Let's notice what they are...]
I. DON'T RESIST
A. SUCH WAS THE BEHAVIOR OF THOSE BEING OPPRESSED IN JAMES' DAY...
1. Notice Ja 5:4; Ja 5:6
2. Though treated unjustly, they did not resist
B. NOT RESISTING IS CONSISTENT WITH THE TEACHING OF CHRIST AND HIS
1. Consider Lk 6:27-30
2. Also Ro 12:19-21
3. And 1 Pe 2:18-23
C. ADMITTEDLY, NOT RESISTING IS CONTRARY TO HUMAN NATURE AND WISDOM...
1. Human nature moves one to react in "justifiable anger"
2. Human wisdom calls for "standing up for one's rights"
D. BUT NOT RESISTING IS BASED UPON TWO THINGS...
1. AN AWARENESS that the Lord is coming to judge - Ja 5:8-9
a. The coming of the Lord in this passage may have reference
to His coming in judgment upon Jerusalem (as foretold by
Jesus in Lk 21 and which occured when Rome destroyed
Jerusalem in AD 70)
b. But it may also refer to the Lord's final coming on the Day
of Judgment which has yet to occur
c. Likewise, we can look for the coming of the Lord in judgment
in various ways (death, the second coming, etc.)
2. A WILLINGNESS to let Him be our avenger - cf. Lk 18:7-8
[It is not easy to keep one's self from resisting, and to wait for the
Lord to take care of it. That's why there is a need for the next
II. BE PATIENT
A. THE WORD FOUND HERE IS SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT THAN THAT FOUND EARLIER
IN THIS EPISTLE...
1. In Ja 1:3 , the word is "hupomone"
a. Which means to bear up under trials
b. Which normally means to be patient in reference to THINGS or
2. In Ja 5:7-8; v10, the word is "makrothumia"
a. Which means to suffer long
b. Which normally means to be patient in reference to PEOPLE
(like those who oppress you)
c. As Vincent defines it:
1) A patient holding out under trial; a long-protracted
restraint of the soul from yielding to passion, especially
the passion of anger
2) The thought links itself naturally with that in the
preceding verse: "the righteous does not resist"
B. THREE EXAMPLES ARE GIVEN TO ENCOURAGE US TO BE PATIENT...
1. The FARMER: "Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the
precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it,
until he receive the early and latter rain." - Ja 5:7
2. The PROPHETS: "Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have
spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering
affliction, and of patience." - Ja 5:10
3. JOB: "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." - Ja 5:11
C. EACH OF THESE EXAMPLES TEACH US...
1. To place our trust in the Lord, that He will eventually reward
us for our trust in Him
2. To be stedfast, in the meantime, in our service to Him
[But such patience or long-suffering is not easily acquired. Therefore,
there is a need to apply the third principle in this passage...]
III. ESTABLISH YOUR HEARTS
A. THE WORD "ESTABLISH"...
1. Means "to fix, make fast, to set" (VINE)
2. Is translated "strengthen" in other places
3. To establish one's heart, then...
a. Involves strengthening our heart in a certain way
b. Here, it means to strengthen our heart so as to be patient
and not resist the evil being done
B. THE "KEY" TO ESTABLISHING OUR HEARTS...
1. Is the Word of God - cf. 2 Pe 1:12
2. Through constant and careful study of God's Word...
a. Our faith in God and His eventual justice is made stronger
b. Patience and strength to not resist is developed - cf. Ro 15:4
[With hearts rooted and established in God's Word, we are more likely
to act as we should when oppressed.
But there are some things we are likely to do when under stress due to
unjust oppression. James goes on to mention two that we are to avoid.
The first of these is...]
IV. DON'T GRUMBLE
A. ESPECIALLY AGAINST ONE ANOTHER (v9)
1. When others oppress us, we are likely to vent our frustrations
as those closest and dearest to us
2. For example, a man after a bad day at work often takes it out
on his wife and family
3. So brethren are likely to direct their frustration towards each
other when being oppressed from outside
B. WE HAVE GOOD REASON NOT TO GRUMBLE...
1. "lest you be condemned"
2. The sin of grumbling is a serious one - cf. 1 Co 10:5-11
3. The same Lord who will judge those who oppress others will
judge those who murmer and grumble!
[So don't let the oppression of others cause us to be condemned by our
mistreatment of our brethren.
Another warning is given...]
V. DON'T SWEAR
A. THIS IS SOMETHING ELSE ONE IS LIKELY TO DO WHEN IN TROUBLE...
1. In other words, make rash promises
2. Promises which God will hold you to, even if not serious -
cf. Eccl 5:1-7
B. THIS PROHIBITION APPLIES ESPECIALLY TO "FLIPPANT OATHS"...
1. In Jesus' day, many Jews were prone to swear in this fashion
2. Where they made a distinction between oaths using God's name
and other oaths (those using His name were considered binding,
while the others were not)
3. Both Jesus and James condemn this distinction between different
kinds of oaths - cf. Mt 5:33-37; Mt 23:16-22
[The solution is to refrain from oaths altogether, and stand by your
Finally, in times of oppression, those who are God's children have a
powerful weapon in their arsenal. To utilize it, they should...]
A. THIS IS THE KEY THING TO DO WHEN OPPRESSED...
1. As we learn from Ja 5:13
2. This is what the Christians of James' day were doing - cf. Ja 5:4
B. WHEN WE PRAY, GOD HEARS!
1. As seen in Ja 5:4
2. As promised by both Jesus and James, the Lord will avenge His
righteous ones - Lk 18:7-8; Ja 5:7-8
3. It may not come when we want it, and the Lord may "bear long
with us" - cf. Re 6:9-11
4. But when the time is ripe, the oppressed will be avenged!
1. Therefore, when we are being oppressed...
a. Don't resist
b. Be patient
c. Establish your hearts
d. Don't grumble
e. Don't swear
2. When we react this way to oppression...
a. We follow the example of Christ and the early disciples
b. Who committed themselves to God who judges righteously
1) Christ - "Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he
suffered, he threatened not; but committed [himself] to him
that judgeth righteously:" (1 Pe 2:23)
2) The disciples - "Wherefore let them that suffer according to
the will of God commit the keeping of their souls [to him] in
well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. (1 Pe 4:19)
3. With such a righteous God on our side, it should be a lot easier to
endure those who oppress us!
Is the righteous God on your side? Or rather, are you on His side?
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