Summary: Tenth in a series on the book of James. Deals with principles for successfully handling the resources that God has given into our lives.
A STUDY OF THE BOOK OF JAMES
Sermon # 10
Some have said to me recently, jokingly I hope, “I will be glad when we finish the series on James, I am tired of having my toes stepped on!” But there is an element of truth in that because James is a very practical book and tends to hit us right where we live. Some will hear the opening words of warning in chapter five directed to the rich and they will exclaim a sigh of relief. We may be tempted to think, “At last something that does not apply to me!” But don’t be too hasty to come to that conclusion because in the face of what most of the world lives on, you are rich, my friends. Statistics tell us that of those who live in the forty poorest countries of the world, where over ¾ of the world’s population lives, the annual per capita income is $270.00. How does it feel to make in a week what a large portion of the world makes in a year.
Ronald Sider in his book, “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger” writes, “Most Christians in the Northern Hemisphere simply do not believe Jesus’ teaching about the deadly danger of possessions. We all know that Jesus warned that possessions are highly dangerous -… But we do not believe Jesus. Christians in the United States live in the richest society in the history of the world surrounded by a billion hungry neighbors. Yet … we insist on more and more.” [Ronald J. Sider. Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: A Biblical Study (New York: Paulist, 1977) p. 131]
So listen to what James says in verse one of chapter five, “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! (2) Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. (3) Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. (4) Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. (5) You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. (6) You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.”
As I said, “Don’t be too quick to ignore the first six verses of chapter five as if they only apply to people with huge fortunes.” James is writing to people he describes as rich, yet they probably did not have a standard of living higher than the majority of Americans today. The principles that James shares are important today. James says, in order to use money properly whether it is a little or a lot, you must take God into account. God is not nearly so concerned with what you do with the millions of dollars you do not have, as he is how you use the ten dollars you do have. Are you spending your money on the things that are really important to you? The answer is probably yes. But the real question we should be asking is; “Are you spending your money on the things that should be important to you?”
This morning we want to examine three principles on “How to Make Our Money Matter.”
First, Don’t Hoard it Greedily – Manage
It Wisely 5:1-3
“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! (2) Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. (3) Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days.”
The Bible never condemns the accumulation of wealth, only the abuse of wealth. It is not a sin to have riches, but it is a sin to hoard riches. In Ecclesiastes 5:13, Solomon wrote, "There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun, riches kept for the owners to his hurt."
The Bible does not discourage the acquiring of wealth, nor does it say that there is anything sinful about saving. The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:14 “Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.”
But it is wrong to store up wealth when you have unpaid bills that you owe to someone else.