But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but let your yes be yes, and your no, no; so that you may not fall under judgment.This last part of the last chapter of James's letter puts me in mind of a mother packing up her child for a journey on which she can't accompany him. It seems like a collection of miscellany in no particular order ("Here's some warm socks, I'm tucking them right in here ... do you have enough money? Better take some more ... here's some stamps -- don't forget to write ..."). James is, perhaps, thinking of a bunch of things that a believer needs for a difficult and dangerous hike: the one we take through this life. I especially like the part about not using oaths; he seems to have lifted that one almost word-for-word from his half-brother Jesus (Matthew 5:34-37). Not that I blame him; who better to plagiarize? I should do much more of that, myself.
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.
And at this point, I've reached the end of James. Not sure where I'm going next. I'm thinking of using this space for a little bit of a topical study, rather than another working-through-a-book sort of study. Well, I've got at least a week to think about it.
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