Summary: James warns that the rich or the poor, if they place the wrong emphasis on material things can Can Fatten Themselves For A Spiritual Slaughter - And They Can Be Guilty Of Murdering The Just!
1. Open your bibles to James 5:5&6.
2. In a previous lesson we discussed the first four verses of this chapter. In those verses we discussed three warnings that James gives.
1) Warning #1: The Misuse Of Wealth Will Bring Miseries! Even the poor can misuse material things and experience miseries. The “one talent man” of Matt. 25 went to hell!
2) Warning #2: Riches Will Not Last And Their Misuse Will Cause Our Life To Deteriorate Spiritually And Drift Further Away From God!
3) Warning #3: The Cries From Laborers That Have Not Been Paid Fairly Will Reach The Ears Of God!
3. Let’s begin our discussion of the other warnings that James gives to those who misuse riches! Keep in mind that James’ warnings are for the poor as well as the extremely rich!
IV. FOURTH, JAMES 5:5 WARNS THE SELFISH RICH THAT UNFAIR TREATMENT OF OTHERS IS FATTENING THEIR OWN SELF UP FOR A SPIRITUAL SLAUGHTER.
1. Let’s read James 5:5. “You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.”
2. In James 5:4, James revealed that the selfish rich had increased their wealth by unfair pay to their employees and now in verse five they add to their sin by using their wealth for selfish indulgence.
3. The phrase “lived on the earth in pleasure” is translated in the ASV as “lived delicately on earth”. The Greek word for this refers to living a “soft” life at the expense of others.
(1) Far from being first-century Robin Hoods, stealing to give to others, they stole to line their own pockets and to be able to live a laid back life.
(1) It has the meaning of giving oneself to the pursuit of pleasure, or plunging headlong into dissipation or the wasting away of one’s life.
(2) Turn to 1 Tim. 5:6. 1 Tim. 5:6 uses the word to refer to the young widow giving herself over to pleasure to the extent that she was spiritually dead even though she was alive physically. Let’s read 1 Tim. 5:6, “But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.” How many pleasure loving people are alive physically, but dead spiritually? Our world is full of such people!
5. Turn to Amos 6:3&ff. This passage provides and example of some of the Israelites who were guilty of the life style that James is warning about. Let’s read Amos 6:1, then vs. 3-8, “1, Woe to you who are at ease in Zion,” now vs. 3-8, “3 Woe to you who put far off the day of doom, Who cause the seat of violence to come near; 4 Who lie on beds of ivory, Stretch out on your couches, Eat lambs from the flock And calves from the midst of the stall; 5 Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, And invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; 6 Who drink wine from bowls, And anoint yourselves with the best ointments, But are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. 7 Therefore they shall now go captive as the first of the captives, And those who recline at banquets shall be removed. 8 The Lord GOD has sworn by Himself, The LORD God of hosts says:”
(1) A life of ease deteriorates the mind and body. Laziness & unspiritual goals will lead one to an immoral lifestyle.
(2) Looking for the easy way out makes honest toil and hard work highly disagreeable. A life of ease develops a state of mind that motivates one to use all of his or her faculties in worthless pursuits, rather than in gainful employment.
6. Next in James, the later part of James 5:5, James accused the wicked rich of having fattened their hearts. The Greek word (Trephô) translated (fattened) means “to nourish, feed, or fatten.” The Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) used this word in Jeremiah 46:21 to speak of “fattened calves”.
(1) The striking picture James paints is of the oppressive, selfish wealthily, who have taken advantage of others so that they could have more ease for themselves.
(2) The desire for luxury and ease is “fattening those who are guilty to be slaughtered by God”. This “slaughter” will come on judgment day!
7. Turn to Ecc. 2:4-10. This passage ironically provides an illustration, of one the wealthiest and wisest men who ever lived. Solomon illustrates the futility and empty outcome of living a life of selfishness and self-indulgence. This passage reveals that Solomon left no stone unturned in his frantic pursuit of pleasure and selfishness. Over and over Solomon uses the words “I” and “my” or “myself”.