Mayor Gerardo Balmori
The Salvation Army
A lot is covered in this passage, but it points to some very important conclusions. We cannot be
comfortable, complacent or cowardly. James, in his most practical style, calls us to be completely
sold out to God. A life that is God-filled will look considerably different from a worldly lifestyle.
The first thing James confronts in this passage is that…
I. We cannot be COMFORTABLE.
Ours is a society built on comfort. Walk into any furniture store, and the name of the game is
comfort. They have chairs with built in heaters and massagers along with drink holders, magazine
pouches and remote control holders. Movie theaters have luxurious seating. Even airlines are
advertising comfortable seating. We are bent on comfort.
The question we need to ask ourselves is, “What is the source of our comfort?” Do we have
permanent comfort or temporary comfort? Eventually the movie usher is going make you get out
of that nice comfortable seat. James examines these two types of comfort. The first is…
A. Temporary COMFORT.
What does it mean to be temporary? It won’t last long. Temporary things go away. When we try to
find our comfort in temporary things problems arise. The first thing we notice is that there is a…
1. False love of the WORLD.
In verse 13, James talks about some people who make big plans about going here and there and
making all kinds of money. James reminds them of something. They had a…
2. False view of LIFE.
Not one of us is guaranteed another day on this earth. None of us are guaranteed to see the sunset
tonight. James says that our life is like a mist. It’s been said that we are living on borrowed time.
None us know when our loan will be called. It could be any minute. We have to look for…
B. Permanent COMFORT.
Where does our permanent comfort come from? It comes from God. It entails a true view of life
and a true love of the world. The first thing that James looks at is a…
1. True view of LIFE.
James says we should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean that we tag that on the end of every sentence we say, but we should
always live under the thought that God is in control, and we aren’t. Our view of life should be that
we rely on God. It’s up to us to view life as a gift from God and not waste any it. That brings us to…
2. True love of the WORLD.
As Christians, we aren’t to love the world; the line of thinking often goes. But the truth is, we are to
love the world. Some Christians have taken that to the extreme of removing totally from the world.
Jesus commanded us to go into all the world and share the Good News of salvation.
We all know that. The problem is that we often don’t follow through on that command. We know
we should, but we don’t do it. We come up with a myriad of excuses: they won’t listen to me, I’m
shy, I’m not sure what to say, they might criticize me, or a host of other reasons.
James says failure to do the right thing is sin. Failure to share Jesus with the world is sin. Are we
so concerned about our appearance before someone that we would rather not tell them about
Jesus, and let them go to Hell? Failure to do the right thing is sin, and we all know the right thing.
James then moves to the problem of complacency.
II. We cannot be COMPLACENT.
Our complacency often comes from looking out for number one. We get so wrapped up in our own
life, job, family, activities, and all that we forget the world while it slips and slides closer to the
precipice of Hell. The problem is in…
A. Looking out for OURSELVES.
In the first six verses of chapter 5, James addresses the people who are only looking out for
themselves. They looked only at their own bottom line. He’s talking about landowners who fail to
pay an agreed wage to workers merely to line their own pockets.
While many of us aren’t rich landowners with hired workers, this can still apply to us.
Why don’t we share Jesus with others? Is it because we are afraid of how someone will respond to
James says that we should be…
B. Looking out for OTHERS.
James’ line of thought throughout this book is that the Church should be on the lookout for others.
We should seek to help others. For example in the first half of chapter 2, James instructs his
readers not to look more highly on the rich than they do on the poor. James practicality extends on
into our passage today. Set against the backdrop of a greedy landowner refusing to pay a fair wage
to a worker, we are left to ask, “What does James want us to take away from this?” The answer is
that we are to look out for others. First by…
1. Sharing our RESOURCES.
We participated in this today with the Alabaster offering for missions. We are looking out for those
around the world who simply don’t have the finances to build their own churches, schools and
pastors’ housing. The vast majority of Americans have a higher standard of living than many in the
developing world. This was brought to my attention when we were in Haiti, and a group of men
were working to start a generator to light the church. We take lights for granted, but they cheered
when the generator started.
It is our job to support the work of the gospel here and around the world. We must be generous
when we give to the physical and spiritual needs of others. It’s amazing how big a 5, 10 or 20-
dollar bill seems when we go to church, but they seem so small when we go to the grocery store.
We need to be generous in sharing our resources. We also need to be generous in…
2. Sharing the GOSPEL.
Often we are generous to help out someone in need. In Ohio this week a husband and wife were
sentenced to prison time for defrauding their community by lying that daughter had leukemia. The
town poured out their financial resources to help this poor girl, whom they thought was sick with a
Why are we not as generous in sharing the Good News of salvation with others? People are dying
in their sins, and sit by and twiddle our thumbs while they get closer and closer to the point of
death. If our co-worker was dying with cancer, and we read an article in Time magazine about a
doctor who had developed a cure for cancer, we would take the article to our friend so their life
could be spared.
The bad news is that our friends, neighbors and co-workers are dying from something much
worse. They are dying in their sins. Each one of us has the book that contains the cure for the sin
problem. Why aren’t we running with our Bibles to our friends to show them the cure for the
disease of sin?
Are we afraid? Well, James says that…
III. We cannot be COWARDLY.
One of the big reasons that many people don’t share the Good News with their friends is because
they are afraid. James says we can’t be cowards. We must be…
A. Be PATIENT.
That is we must be patient with others. We cannot force others to accept the Good News, but we
must patiently present them the truth of the Word of God. Jesus compared the Word of God to a
seed. James says the farmer is patient waiting for the rains and then the harvest.
The farmer plants the seed, but he doesn’t run out to the field everyday and dig up the seed to
make sure it’s growing. He has faith that the seed is growing. He does his best to cultivate it. He
pulls out the weeds. He cares for it, but if he didn’t plant the seed to begin with he wouldn’t have
It’s up to us to plant the seed of the gospel. It’s up to us to answer the questions others may have as
the seed grows. The seed can’t grow if we don’t plant it.
In addition to being patient, we must…
B. Be STEADFAST.
James tells us in verse 8 to establish our hearts. It means to make them steadfast. It means
reinforcing them. In the days before the hurricane the news showed pictures of people making
their homes and businesses steadfast. They used plywood and sandbags to shore up the buildings.
The way we shore up our hearts is through seeking God’s will for our lives. That comes through
reading his Word and prayer. We are to be steadfast for two reasons. The first is…
1. The Lord is COMING.
The Lord is going to return. No one knows when it will happen. When James wrote this letter a
little less than 2000 years ago, Christians lived with the expectation that Jesus would come back in
their lifetime. Obviously he didn’t.
We have to live with that same expectancy. He may come before this service is over, or it may be
another 2000 years, or anytime between now and then.
The old saying goes, “When the cats away, the mice will play.” The mice aren’t expecting the cat to
come back anytime soon. If the cat came back they would be caught dead.
If Jesus comes back before we expect, will we be caught dead? Just like we are not guaranteed
another day of life, we are not guaranteed that Jesus won’t come back before we die.
Where are you going to be when he comes back? What will you be doing? Will you be somewhere
that will embarrass you? Will you be doing something embarrassing?
We are to live if the Lord will come back tomorrow.
James says that we are to be patient because…
2. Life involves SUFFERING.
There are bunch of wealth and prosperity preachers out there claiming that when you come to
Jesus your life will be easy. God will park a Cadillac in your driveway, and your bank account will
never dry up. They say that everyone will like you. That is nonsense.
James illustrates his point in referring his readers to the Old Testament prophets and Job.
Jeremiah 38:6 says, “So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s
son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water
in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.”
Hebrews 11 is called the Faith Hall of Fame. It lists many of the giants of faith. Some were
rewarded with good things on earth and others weren’t. Hebrews 11:36-37 says, Read it.
That’s not the easy life. God doesn’t promise smooth sailing. God only promises to be with us
through the difficult times. We are to be patient because our reward is on the other side.
We cannot be comfortable, complacent or cowardly. God calls us to change our world. Change is
never comfortable. Change is not complacent. Change isn’t for cowards.
Are you willing to allow God to have complete control of your life? Are you willing to make him
first priority in your life, ahead of everything else?
We’re going to sing the song I Surrender All. While we sing this song, if you desire to surrender it
all to God (to give up comfort, complacency and cowardice) come and pray at the altar. He is
waiting for us to commit every part of our life to him and change our world.