James 5:1-20 shares some examples of the challenges in living out our identity in Christ. Verses 1-6 is addressed to those who take advantage of other people. In the last days before the coming of Christ, these rich are bent on laying up treasures on earth. They hire people to work all day and then don’t pay them. Or find flaws in their work or place fraudulent charges against so they can withhold wages. These verses call for patience on the part of the righteous who find themselves taking advantage of. For now they suffer for not taking action on their own, but cry out to God for help. There will come a day, the day of Christ, when the rich who take advantage of others will receive the “interest” on the wealth they have built up in this life on the backs of other, but remain poverty stricken in the rich they have built up in heaven.
Verses 7-12 continue to advocate patience in the face of suffering. These verses seem to be addressed to the followers of Christ to not grumble against one another. Don’t sear on a stack of bibles that you are in the right. Simply answer “yes” or “no.” The Lord is compassionate and merciful as we have seen in the coming of Jesus Christ. Look beyond the immediate situation. Rather “Establish your hearts (in Christ) for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
Verses 13-20, in the time of suffering prayer and sing praise to the Lord. Prayer for one another. Call the elders of the church to come and pray. Confess your sins to one another that they may be forgiven. If anyone wanders from the faith, bring them back. And the one who does the hard work of retrieving souls who have become lost is covering a multitude of his own sins and those of the wanderer who is returned to the flock. But by all means pray for prayer has great power as it works.