Summary: The second in a series walking through the book of James. This message explores the challenges which people have faced in finding their identity in financial status since the days of Christ, right up to today.
We are diving into our second week of study in the book of James. Let’s quickly recap what we learned about the book of James last week. Don’t be shy. If you know the answer, call it out.
James is located in the Old or New Testament? (New) Anyone remember what number book James is out of the 27 New Testament books? (20th) How many different “James”s do we encounter in the New Testament? (4 – James the son of Zebedee, James the son of Alphaeus, James the half-brother of Jesus, and James the father of Judas) And which one appears to be the author of the book of James? (Jesus Brother) Great, when was the book of James written? (mid to late 40s) And finally, who was the book of James written to? (Jewish Believers)
Then we talked about some good reasons to study the book of James, not the least of which is the idea that we have joined in this “spiritual Israel”. So when James indicates right at the beginning of the book that he is writing to the twelve tribes scattered abroad, that now includes us as recipients of this letter.
When we looked at the first eight verses of this letter, there were two things I wanted you to pick-up. First, if you jumped down to verse 4 and then backed your way to the front of the book, you would be able to see the unfolding of this plan that leads to our perfection, our holiness, our sanctification. In verse 4 James tells us that the goal is for us to be perfect, complete, and he says that is the work of patience. Before that he says we build patience through the testing of our faith, and he says that our faith is tested through temptations. Not just negative circumstances or events that happen in our lives, but specifically through temptations.
We also explored this idea of lacking wisdom. That when we lack wisdom we are to ask God for it, and He will provide it. But we are to ask with confidence, and assurance that He will provide it. And we looked at these words that explain the double minded nature of an individual that asks God for wisdom without truly believing they will receive it.
Now, I don’t think it is in anyway coincidental that on the heels of such an opening. Right on the other side of talking about temptations that will test our faith, and talking about how we lack wisdom and need to ask God for it, that James dives into a particular example. And I think it is interesting to note, that thousands of years ago, when James wrote this letter and wanted to provide an immediate example of temptation and lack of wisdom. . .he came to the issue of money.
Two weeks ago we wrapped up our stewardship series looking at the issue of tithing. A very specific money matter. If you were not able to be here, let me encourage you to pick-up a copy of that message, as well as our introduction to James last Sunday if you missed out on that one. But today James gives us a broader look at the issue of money. And we know that with all that has changed in society in the past 2,000 years, the fact that money is a great temptation, and area where we lack wisdom has not.
Roughly 15 percent of everything Christ said relates to the topic of money and possessions. That is more than His teachings on heaven and hell combined. Jesus put an emphasis on money and possessions and James dives right into the topic of money just 9 verses into this letter because there’s a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives and how we think about and handle money. We may try to divorce our faith and our finances, but God sees them as inseparable.
Listen to these numbers. In a recent Gallop poll it was revealed that 64% of all couples argue over money issues, and money is also the #1 cause for all divorces with 54% of all divorces being over money issues. Another poll revealed that nearly 80 percent of all divorced couples between the ages of 20 and 30 list financial difficulties as the primary cause of their separation. When Debbie and I went through our 4 month separation, and our marriage was hanging by a thread, we were also experiencing some major financial issues. The two just seem to go hand in hand.
Finances – money – cash – the green stuff have torn apart many relationships in our culture today. There has been misunderstandings of financial resources and misappropriation of financial resources. This preoccupation with money has created some startling results in our world today.