Summary: Message 24 in our exposition of James where James excoriates the selfish rich.

Chico Alliance Church

Pastor David Welch

“Fate of the Selfish Rich”


this is our 24th excursion in front of the mirror of God’s word. James serves as a mirror to examine the true nature of our trust in God. So far, we have explored several life categories requiring a faith response. James included instruction and insight regarding those categories.

I. Faith’s response to trials and temptation 1:2-27

Consistently respond to trials with joy realizing their value in our growth.

Confidently ask God for wisdom knowing He will give it. 1:5-8

Focus on your spiritual riches. 1:9-11

God rewards endurance 1:12

Don’t blame God for temptations 1:13-18

Receive and practice the implanted word of truth. 1:18-27

II. Faith’s response to partiality and prejudice 2:1-13

Resist the inclination to partiality and prejudice by loving others as ourselves.

III. Faith’s true nature 2:14-26

Believe God and behave godly.

Genuine faith in God is demonstrated by obedience to God

IV. Faith’s response to conversation 3:1-12

Control your speech realizing the destructive nature of negative speech.

V. Faith’s way of life 3:13-4:12

Live according to the wisdom from above.

1. Claiming wisdom without living wisely makes you a liar. 3:14

2. Human wisdom arises from three sources – earthly, soulish, demonic 3:15

3. Jealousy and strife breed a multitude of other evils 3:16

4. Wise living promotes righteous living 3:17-18

5. The war within ourselves triggers wars with others 4:1-3

6. Friendship with the world is enmity with God 4:4

7. God jealously desires intimate relationship 4:5

8. God gives grace to the humble 4:6

James provided a process of cleansing the polluted heart.

1. Submit to God.

2. Resist the devil and he will flee

3. Draw near to God and He will draw near.

4. Cleanse your hands and heart (actions and attitudes)

5. Get serious about your sin.

6. Humble yourselves before God.

7. Don’t speak evil against one another.

VI. Faith’s response to God’s will 4:13-17

Discern and do the will of God.

VII. Faith’s response to suffering and persecution 5:1-12

Patiently endure

In this section, James deals with persecution of Christians. How should faith respond to persecution?

What should our focus be? How do we respond? James first excoriates the persecutor and then encourages the persecuted. He called the persecutors to weep and howl anticipating the coming judgment. He called the persecuted to endure and not groan anticipating the coming blessing.

James used a literary device as a form of encouragement for the persecuted. He addresses a group of people that not present to encourage the intended audience. James seeks to encourage the persecuted by helping them realize that those who were persecuting them will ultimately answer to God for their actions. Verses one through six, clearly does not address rich Christians in the body. He does not even use the word brother, or brethren. He simply pronounces judgment. The tone is very blunt. It resembles the tone of some of the prophets exposing the people’s sin. It is quite different than the other sections bluntly calling out sin. Even though he called those Christians making friends with the world adulterers, he also invited them to humble themselves.

He does not call these selfish rich people to repentance. In contrast, he used the word brothers three times in the encouragement section.

He wants encouraged the persecuted to…

A. Realize the ultimate plight of the selfish persecutor

B. Realize the ultimate prize of the enduring persecuted

This week we will focus on the persecutors and their ultimate plight, and next week we will focus on the persecuted and their future prize and present responsibility.

A. Realize the ultimate plight of the selfish persecutor

1. Their condemnation is certain

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! James 5:1-3

The “come now” is a call to listen up, pay attention, get ready for a zinger. The instruction “weep and howl”.

Weep is to sob out loud, the response associated with the death of a loved one. Howl is to shriek or scream.

Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come! Isaiah 13:6

The cause for such an emotional display is the realization of coming judgement. It’s the reaction of the merchants when Babylon falls in the end times.

And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, “Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come.” Revelation 18:9-10

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