Summary: In James 5, James comes down very hard on the rich and the sins that often accompany materialism. What we do with our money declares what we value and love. So, what is your use of money saying about you?


A. One evening a husband was balancing the checkbook and said to his wife, “You know the old saying, ‘money talks’? Well, ours just said, ’So long!’”

1. I know that we all feel that way sometimes, don’t we?

2. The world we live in runs on money, and it seems that we never have enough of it.

B. Understanding the way money works and having the right perspective on it is not always easy.

1. One day a mother stopped at her local bank and allowed her 6 year-old daughter to help her push the proper buttons at the ATM.

2. When the money came out of the machine the little girl squealed with excitement and said, “Look, Mommy, we won!”

3. We all know that that is not the way it works! Even though we may wish it did!

C. The rich are very often the objects of other people’s envy.

1. They drive expensive cars, live in mansions, wear custom-tailored clothes, flash expensive jewelry and travel to exotic places.

2. We sometimes look at them and wish we could swap places.

3. But listen to the words of some people who have a lot of money.

4. Listen to this quote from H. Ross Perot published in Fortune Magazine, “Remember, if you get real lucky, if you make a lot of money, if you go out and buy a lot of stuff –it’s gonna break. You got your biggest, fanciest mansion in the world. It has air conditioning. It’s got a pool. Just think of all the pumps that are going to go out. Or go to a yacht basin in any place in the world. Nobody is smiling, and I’ll tell you why. Something broke that morning. The generator’s out; the microwave doesn’t work…Things just don’t mean happiness.”

5. The American dream may be simply that – a dream - just ask actor Brad Pitt, who said this in an interview for the Rolling Stone: “Once you got everything, then you’re just left with yourself…it doesn’t help you sleep any better, and you don’t wake up any better because of it.”

6. Truth is: Material wealth never satisfies the soul!

D. We might fantasize about what it would be like to live like the rich and famous, but we need to realize that the unqualified yearning for money and the things it can buy is spiritually dangerous.

1. When we read our Bibles, we notice that the rich are often the objects of divine scorn and condemnation.

2. Luke 6:24-25 reads, “But woe to you that are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.”

3. In Luke 18:24, Jesus said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

E. The point of such stinging rebukes is not to teach that it is a sin to be rich, nor is there automatic merit in being poor, but that there is spiritual danger to be avoided regarding money.

1. The Bible tells us that it is God who gives His people the ability to achieve wealth (Deut. 8:18), and it is God who sometimes shows the sign of His special favor upon an individual by giving them an abundant increase of wealth (just take Abraham as an example).

2. The Bible also declares that poverty is sometimes caused by laziness and forbids the church to assist a person in such circumstances (2 Thess. 3:10).

3. So, what, then, is the main point that God wants us to know about earthly riches?

4. It is simply that we are not to put our trust in riches, but to put our trust in the God who gives all things.

5. Proverbs 11:28, “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall.”

6. This was the gist of Jesus’ teaching when he said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mt. 6:19-20)

F. As we turn to James 5:1-6, we hear James making some of the same points that Jesus did.

1. And it becomes more than apparent that James was not criticizing the rich just because they were rich.

2. There is the presumption and the accusation that they had made their money inappropriately and that they had used it selfishly.

3. Riches can be a blessing, or riches can be a terrible curse.

4. It all depends on how riches are acquired, our attitudes towards them, and how they are spent.

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