Summary: "For Dummies" books are a raging success! Why? Full of practical wisdom and simple "How To's" Wouldn't a "Christianity for Dummies," a book full of practical wisdom & simple How Tos on how to live out our faith, be great? James & this series is JUST THAT
Christianity For Dummies: Money Talks
A. Did ya'll hear about the groom who approached the pastor during the wedding rehearsal, with an unusual offer? "Look, I'll give you $100 if you'll change the wedding vows. When you get to the part where I'm supposed to promise to 'love, honor and obey' and 'be faithful to her forever,' I'd appreciate it if you'd just leave that out." He passed the minister a $100 bill and walked away satisfied. On the day of the wedding, when it came time for the groom's vows, the pastor looked the young man in the eye and said: "Will you promise to prostrate yourself before her, obey her every command and wish, serve her breakfast in bed every morning of your life, and swear eternally before God and your lovely wife that you will never ever even look at another woman, as long as you both shall live?" The groom gulped and looked around, and said in a tiny voice, "Yes," then leaned toward the pastor and hissed: "I thought we had a deal." The pastor put the $100 bill into the groom's hand and whispered: "She made me a better offer."
B. The moral of that story? Money TALKS! A popular comedian once said "If money talks, all it ever says to me is goodbye!" I'm certain many people today, possibly even some in this room, would echo that sentiment.
C. Yet money was not saying goodbye to a group of men James addressed in the 5th Chapter of his epistle. These men were rich, and their riches were sinful. They were using their wealth for selfish purposes and were persecuting the poor in the process. And yet as James warned, a time of horrible judgment was coming upon these rich men in which the money they hoped would save them would talk alright. In fact it would cry out, croaking like a raven, testifying against them on the Day of Judgment to the Lord God Omnipotent.
D. As we explore this time of horrible judgment, we will find that James lays out The Pronouncement of Judgment, The Depiction of Judgment, The Justification of Judgment and the Witnesses of Judgment.
II. Scripture Reading
A. Read James 5:1-6.
B. Pray - Father, money is a powerful detractant in our relationship with you. Open our eyes and hearts to how for unbelievers and believers alike money will talk on the day of judgment.
III. The Pronouncement of Judgment (Read and discuss v. 1)
A. Come now, you rich We must first answer the question Who are these rich that James is addressing?
- Rich Christians? Unlikely...why? #1 Not addressed as brethren (which James often does in his epistle); in fact he doesn't do so until 5:7 when they are told to be patient in light of what has just been said. #2 No call to repentance (as there is throughout this epistle in those passages in which it is clear brethren are being addressed)
- Rich Unbelievers? Dr. Moo = "unmistakably addressses non-Christians"; clear from the many biblical and extrabiblical traditions concerning unrighteous wealth that James uses. James tells these rich unbelievers...
- Weep = Greek "klaio," meaning to sob, wail aloud; expressing uncontainable audible grief Have you ever weeped to that point?
- Howl = Greek "ololuzo," onomatopoetic term meaning to howl, shriek; expressing feelings too intense for words; only use = prophets in OT and always in context of judgment Have you ever been this grief stricken? Why is James calling these rich unbelievers to weep and howl?
C. For the miseries that are coming upon you These are not earthly, temporal sufferings but condemnation and punishment that God will mete out on the day of judgment. Which begs the questions...
#1 Is it wrong for a Christian to be rich? No! The Bible nowhere condemns the rich for being rich. Some of the godliest people in the Bible were rich ( e.g. Job, Abraham, Joseph, David, Solomon, Barnabas, Philemon, Lydia) Money is NOT evil (cf. 1 Tim. 6:10).
#2 Why then are the rich being judged? Dr. Moo = In the NT condemnations of wealthy people are almost always attributed to a misuse of wealth. You then equals the unrighteous rich. Don't ignore the fact that wealth and unrighteous go together in Scripture like PB and jelly - wealth is a strong obstacle to salvation (cf. Matt. 19:23-24) and inclines one to forget God (cf. Deut. 8:13-14).
D. Illustration: John Beukema tells this story - he moved to a new state, went to the DMV to get a new driver's license and was told he couldn't because his license was suspended...there was a problem he had to clear up in Massachusetts first. He owed an excise tax of $2 that with penalties and interest had grown to nearly $300. "The whole thing was embarassing. It wasn't so much the money that bothered me; it was knowing that I was on the wrong side of the law for all those years without even being aware of it."