Summary: The final detials of the book of Jeames teach us great lessons of the Christian life.
James: Religion That Works
April 30, 2006
Introduction: We had been looking at the book of James for several weeks before we took a little break for all of our Easter events. Today we want to go back and “put a bow” on things if you will.
I want to refresh your memory a little about what is taking place. James is writing to a group of Christians who have scattered away from Jerusalem due to the persecution being inflicted upon the church. He has written to them about persevering through trials, struggling with temptations, dealing with quarrels among themselves and living out wht they say they believe.
The bottom line for James is that your faith is demonstrated through your actions.
Today we want to look at three detail areas of life that James addresses in chapter 5.
I. Right Attitudes About Money
James has addressed some issues that are facing the church about how they treat those who are rich and how they treat those who are poor. In chapter 2 he points out that we should not treat people differently based on their economic condition. Now in chapter 5 he deals directly with the rich who are oppressing the poor.
“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.” James 5:1-6 (NIV)
James is speaking directly to those who are using their economic standing to oppress the poor. He issues a warning that not only will the day come when they will lose their money, but a day will come when it will all be rotted away.
The pursuit of riches and the self-focused life will bring misery.
He notes that it is because of the way they have gone about their gaining and treatment of others that will bring judgment from God.
“You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.”
James 5:6 (NIV)
The money is not the issue. It is what the money has done to them that is the issue.
God has not called us to take a vow of poverty, nor has he guaranteed us that we will have whatever material thing we want. What he has told us is to put our focus on eternal things and not material things.
The writing of James very closely resembles the teaching of Jesus as recorded in the book of Matthew.
"Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be. No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:19-21; 24 (NLT)
God desires our heart to be on the eternal matters of life.
Money and the pursuit of it can become a god that entices us to be “double-minded” in our lives.
Paul warns about money in one of the most misquoted verses in the bible.
“For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” 1 Tim. 6:10 (NLT)
Paul does not say that money is the root of all evil. It is the love of money. It is a heart issue.
The writer of Hebrews gives us very similar warnings.
“Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never forsake you." Hebrews 13:5 (NLT)
The problem in our lives is when we find our validation in our bank account instead of our God.
Money entices people to do all kinds of things that they would never consider. It is an intoxicant and it is a mistress in our walk with God.
A healthy financial approach:
1) See all of your resources as a gift from God.