Summary: This five part sermon series explores the book of James, which is all about where the rubber meets the road, and discovers what real faith looks like in real life. Each sermon is expository and alliterated. Power point is available.
Real Faith for Real Life: James Four
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 10/21/2012
Good morning and welcome to Blooming Grove. It’s great to see such a good crowd here this morning and you’re all awake, which is a plus. I heard about a mom who was talking to her kids in the car on the way to church and she reminded them that they needed to be quiet during the sermon. She prompted them, asking, “And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?” Her little girl answered, “Because some people are sleeping!” Awake or asleep, we’re just glad you’re here and we hope you feel welcome.
A few weeks ago we started this series through the book of James, which is all about real faith for real life. If you’ll remember, in the first chapter, James talks about how real faith helps us carry our burdens, overcome our battles, and to apply our Bibles to our lives. In chapter two, James goes about defining real faith for real life and he identifies three types of faith—dead faith, demonic faith, and dynamic faith. In chapter three, James talks about how real faith ought to affect the way we talk; the things we say. Our words have the power to direct, destroy or delight—so we need to be careful as Christians about what comes out of our mouths.
As we move into chapter four, I want to remind you again that James is Jesus’ little brother. Think about the dynamics of growing up in Jesus’ shadow. How much pressure was that? A couple of weeks ago in youth-group, we watched this Christian comedian named Michael Jr. who talked that. He said, “Everybody probably thought he could do all the stuff that Jesus could do, but he couldn’t. He was just James, not James Christ… and you know how little brothers are. I’m sure everywhere that Jesus went, James followed him. Everything Jesus did, James tried to do it too. That’s what little brothers do.” So, Michael Jr. says, “I’ll bet one time, James almost drowned.”
I don’t know about that, but I do know that James was probably very familiar with concepts like jealousy and covetousness. And he writes about those here in chapter four. Let me share it with you: “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them.” (James 4:1-2 NLT).
These opening verses are all about the reality of covetousness.
• THE REALITY OF COVETOUSNESS
Covetousness is what Dave Ramsey calls it stuffitis. And God thought it was serious enough to make “thou shall not covet” one of the Ten Commandments. It’s this persistent desire for more stuff, better stuff, bigger stuff, prettier stuff, other people’s stuff. And this covetousness sets in at an early age, doesn’t it?
If my son earns a sucker or a piece of candy at school for good behavior, I tell him, “You better eat that all gone before we get home, because you know what’s going to happen if your little sister sees it.” She’ll cry and scream because she wants one too.
An elementary school teacher on recess duty was lecturing to her class on the dangers of not bundling up properly when playing in the winter cold. She told them a dramatic story about a naughty little boy who disobeyed his mother and went sledding one afternoon without his mittens, cap, and snow suit. Because of it, he caught pneumonia and died. When she finished her story, one boy raised his hand. "Mrs. Johnson, may I ask two questions?"
"Go ahead, Tommy," the teacher replied.
"Who has his sled now and could I have it?"
Some of us don’t grow out of this, though. We see someone with something cool and we have to have it too. Americans are drowning in debt because we covet things that we can’t afford. Consumers have racked up more than $2.2 trillion in purchases and cash advances on major credit cards in just the last year. And it’s become a habit for them to spend more than they have. To compound the problem, fewer people are paying their credit cards bills on time. The percentage of people delinquent on their credit cards is the highest it's been in years (CNN.com 2/22/08).
Jesus said to his disciples, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15 ESV). Life is not all about stuff. That’s what James is trying to tell us. These were Christian people he was writing to, yet they had been swallowed up by greed, jealousy and covetousness. This is real life stuff that real Christians wrestle with. But real faith means learning to be content in every circumstance. If you see yourself coming down with a case of stuffitis, you need to do something about it quickly because when you don’t the results will be conflict among Christians.