Summary: Authentic faith is generous towards God, while artificial faith is greedy.
Foolproof – A Study of James
INVESTING Faith – James 5:1-6
Insert: I want the ushers to come to the front w/ the offering plates and I want you to pull out your wallets/purses. This is a stick up! I don’t want anyone to get hurt. So if you’ll calmly drop all your money and checkbooks into the plates, you’ll be safe… I’m not kidding! This is a robbery. For those of you who think I’ve lost it, I haven’t. I just thought I’d give you a taste of what God experiences every week when He gets robbed by those who profess Christ, but whose wallets are off limits to His will and work.
Verse: Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ – In stealing God’s tithes and offerings. You’re under a curse – the whole nation of you – b/c you’re robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. Ml. 3:8-10
Insert: Okay. So I’m not going to rob you. Besides, if you’re like me, the only thing a thief would get from me would be the experience. I’ve got a better idea. Exchange wallets w/ your neighbor and give like you’ve always wanted to give!
Recap: James has been asking if our faith is authentic or artificial. As we’ve discussed, in the first part of the letter, James was speaking to believers offering verifiable evidence to approve their faith. But in ch. 4, he begins to reprove those churchgoers whose faith was artificial. For the (3) weeks, we’ve looked at their faithlessness – how they create conflict, how they’re judgmental, how they’re defiant towards God’s will, and today, how they’re greedy w/ God’s blessings. James finishes his confrontation of the unsaved churchgoer by addressing the how they handle money.
Text: Listen, you rich people, weep and wail b/c of the misery that’s coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you. Jm. 5:1-6
Note: In this passage, James takes dead aim at those who call themselves worshippers of God but who are actually worshippers of money. Of the (4) practices of the unsaved churchgoer, this one is the most telling b/c of the open reluctance to obey God and support the work of His kingdom.
Note: Many people refuse to give b/c of ignorance to God’s command, others b/c of greed and self-centeredness. Some w/hold b/c they want to make send a message. Only the message they’re sending is that they’re lost or carnal. The tithe is the Lord’s; to mess w/ the tithe is to steal from God.
Trans: In this text, James says money, more than anything, serves to determine the authenticity of a person’s faith. Jesus said the same thing in Luke 16.
Insert: Parable of the Shrewd Manager – No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to the one and despise the other. You can’t serve God and money. When the Pharisees heard all this, they made fun of Jesus, b/c they loved money. Jesus said to them, "You’re the ones who make yourselves look right in other people’s sight, but God knows your hearts. For the things that are considered of great value by people are worth nothing in God’s sight. Lk. 16:12-15
Note: The Pharisees were religious pretenders! Their god was money. Listen! There can only be one priority in your life – God or money. Godly people make God their priority, but for people w/out God, the big ‘G’ in their lives stands for ‘Greenbacks!’ They spell God – M-O-N-E-Y.
Note: Everything today is about the “Benjamins!” Consider the Apprentice – Trump’s show. Money, money, money, money! These people are subjecting themselves to live in tents to have a chance to hang w/ Donald.
Quote: We have “In God We Trust” on our coins but “Me First” engraved on our hearts. Billy Graham (from World Aflame)
Note: These people worship at the shrine of accumulated wealth. Their daily devotions focus on the financial pages of the paper and they’ve convinced themselves that possessions will bring them joy, fulfillment, and security.