Summary: James talks about the danger of wealth used selfishly. We are called to be good stewards but God does send us warning sigs. (quotes from James Dobson)
In Jesus Holy Name March 11, 2007
Text: James 5:1-6 Lent III , Redeemer
“Warnings of Responsibility to the Wealthy”
The Book of James 9th in the Series
Warnings. The little red lights on the dash board of your car are meant to be heeded. You see the temperature gauge, or the oil gauge flash in the morning but you are in a hurry. “I’ll take care of it later.” You say. Four days later the light is still blinking on and off. You say to yourself. “Yes, that’s right. I’ve got to take care of that light.” Late that afternoon on the way home from work… on your way to pick up the kids… you find yourself parked on the side of the road, with an engine too hot to run anymore.
Warnings. Red lights. In life they signal us of impending danger. They exist in all parts of life. Sirens scream as a marriage starts to sour, alarms blare when a faith weakens, flares go up to alert us of morals being compromised.
The warnings manifest themselves in a variety of ways; guilt, depression, rationalization. A friend might confront us. A scripture might sting. A burden might prove too heavy. Warnings come to alert us. They are to wake us up.
Unfortunately, they are now always heeded. All of us have learned to cover our ears and shield our eyes at the right moment. Warnings can be as blunt as a sledgehammer and we still turn our head and whistle them away.
In our continuing series through the book of James we have arrived at Chapter 5. James offers both a warning and a challenge to responsibility. The context of chapter 5 is not difficult. James is talking to those who are wealthy.
Both James and Paul, in his letter to Timothy, offer warnings. Both remind us that “today’s money will be worthless when Christ returns. So we should spend our time accumulating treasures that will be worth while in God’s eternal kingdom.
Money is not the problem. Wealth is not a sin. Christian families, like other families need money to live and support them. Missionaries need money to help them spread the gospel message. Churches need money to do their work effectively, paying their bills, paying for a parking lot, and providing for their staff.
It is the love of money that leads to evil. (I Timothy 6:10) It is the love of money that causes some to oppress others in order to get more. That’s how the world works with out God. In America or especially in developing countries around the world….palaces are built and lived in by the rulers….and government officials, while the people live in abject poverty.
The words of James are warning lights…warning all Christians who are tempted to adopt worldly standards for their personal lifestyle.
The teaching of scripture is not that money and wealth are evil, but rather if God has granted you wealth you have even greater responsibility to over come the worldly temptation to use your wealth for yourself. Remember…we are to be managers, good stewards of all that God has placed into our hands. James’ point: “If you are only concerned about enriching yourself, your soul might become impoverished.
One other point needs to be clarified this morning before we continue. It is not true that the poor go to heaven and the rich to hell. There are godless poor people and there are godly rich people in the world. There always has been and always will be. We can classify people in the following ways:
1) There are those who are financially poor and spiritually empty. There are those who go to bed hungry every night and they don’t know the father’s love. Or they have heard of the Father’s love in Jesus Christ and have rejected Him. They remain financially poor and spiritually empty.
2) Then there are those who are financially rich and full of spiritual riches as well. There are many in scripture who fit this category. Abraham. Joseph, David. Daniel. Joseph of Arimaetha. Barnabas of whom it is said…. He had land and gave generously.
They are financially rich and spiritually rich managing the resources god has granted to their management with wisdom.
3) There are those who financially poor and spiritually
rich. The riches of Christ sustain their earthly
life. In this category I think of people like
Mother Theresa as she gave her life’s work to the
poor and out cast in India.
We are living in the wealthiest nation… we wear fine apparel, and are able to bathe daily. We have fine homes for shelter. We are not really poor in the sense of the poor who roam the streets of Calcutta, or Mexico City, or New York City.