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Summary: James teaches on the dangers of riches and material possessions...BUT focuses on the attitude of the possessor!

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Taught at Oak Park Baptist Church

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - 6pm

These six (6) verses are NOT a rant against wealth or any specific wealthy people, but what we find James doing here is making a proclamation...

In v1 we find James proclaiming directly AT the rich believers ABOUT their wealth! It was because he wanted to make sure they understood their particular situation as 'rich' believers! That's right, he was NOT speaking to the 'rich' who did not know God, but to the new believers who were wealthy...

It seems as if they had not allowed the mercy and grace of their salvation to manifest itself in their personal lives... or business practices!

So here he is proclaiming AT the rich ABOUT the temporary value of their riches and the eternal worthlessness of their earthly wealth...

In v2 we find James telling these rich believers that ALL of their wealth will one day be worthless as he describes it by comparing their wealth to that of spoiled food or rotting meat... or clothes where the moths have destroyed what was thought to be stored safely away!

In other words, what you have stored away believing it to be good and something you can rely upon to save you at a future time... all of that is useless and will leave you helpless and wanting when the time comes! He was telling these rich believers that they could NOT rely upon their wealth for sustenance or for shelter/clothing... they could not take shelter from this world or from their sin in their wealth... it would fail them in the end!

He goes on in v3 to describe their wealth as worthless... he specifically mentions gold and silver! In this world gold and silver have intrinsic and practical value... they are both commodities that the world holds in high regard and assigns great value to...

BUT in the economy of God, gold and silver have NO intrinsic value and God does NOT hold these precious metals in high regard. In fact, here James is warning believers who have accumulated wealth over their lives that the gold and silver they own adds nothing to their life span NOR their lives itself! Paul says that their wealth is worthless in the sight of God. In fact, in v3 we find Paul telling the rich that their wealth can actually work against them as believers!

If a believer chooses to pursue wealth over serving God they will stand in judgment by God at the end... and God's evidence against them will be the very wealth they sought to keep at all costs.

v4 speaks to the character and integrity of those who are considered wealthy. This is not to say that all wealthy people treated their servants like James is saying... we know that Boaz was a merciful master and treated his workers with integrity and they held him in high honor b/c of his integrity!

But here we may see a potential 'chinck' in the armor of the church in Rome. It seems as if word of people who were in business, who had professed Christ as Savior and who were attending this church in Rome... had NOT been living out what they had professed... We have no proof of what was going on, only that James was concerned specifically about the rich taking advantage of the poor...

Here James wants the church to know that if they were treating those who worked for them like slaves and mistreating them OR even those who they hired to work... that their sin would find them out!

The phrase here in v4 that the cries of the workers are heard by God is similar to what God said to Cain when He told Cain that the blood of his brother cried out...

When injustice abounds, the cries of the innocent and oppressed reach the ears of God... here James is calling those involved and responsible to know that God hears the cries of the downtrodden and that any believer who ignores these cries is NOT being obedient to God and their sin will find them out... These cries have reached heaven itself and James is relating to these rich believers that they must change how they did business and how they treated those who worked for them...

v5/6 is a warning to the rich believers who will choose to NOT hear the cry of the people... v5 describes the rich and their current situation, living their lives in luxury and not knowing want or desire... like a cow being prepared for slaughter they have been given EVERYTHING they ever wanted... they knew NO want in their lives!

B/c they had NO want in their lives it is highly possible that they could not see the need in the lives of those around them... and there are times when we do NOT see a need and people are hurt simply b/c we did not see the need...

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