Summary: The precious fruit
February 5, 2012
I think it’s important before we begin chapter five to go back and see the first point of the letter. Back in the first part of chapter one James tells the saints to ask God for wisdom if they lack it because He gives liberally and without finding fault.
A man can only count it joy when he goes through all kinds of trials if wisdom teaches him that the end of suffering is patience.
This last chapter sort of sums that up with a final rebuke—those who heap up treasure and live in pleasure on the earth will be judged, so Christians should wait patiently for the return of the Lord knowing that everything is in His time.
Let’s look at this chapter as we close out James as we first see that,
God warns against selfishness (:1-6)
Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
These rich men aren’t just people who’ve been blessed by God. They’re hoarders who heap treasure and take from the weak:
2Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. 3Your gold and silver is cankered;
Notice these are all in the present tense. He isn’t saying that your gold and silver will rust (although that is true). These men loved and stole and strived for these riches because of the envy of their hearts, and James says,
and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire.
Men are accountable for their sins, and these men are no different:
Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
Now keep this in mind: the problem isn’t that they have plenty. The problem is that they’re heaping up treasure for themselves as security. Think about Luke 12:13-38,
And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. 14And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? 15And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. 16And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. 22And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. 23The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. 24Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? 25And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? 26If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? 27Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? 29And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. 30For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. 31But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. 32Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. 34For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 35Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; 36And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. 37Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. 38And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.