“The Wealthy’s Social Responsibility”

Date: 9-20-14

Text: James 5:1-6– 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. 3 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. 4 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. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.  [NIV84]

The Big Idea: James, like his Brother, Jesus, is very, very concerned how the scattered believers use their wealth.

My Thoughts: 

Have you read the above passage yet? If you have, give it a read again. How does it make you feel? (a) “Right on! Give it to them!” or (b) “Hey, wait! That’s not fair! I worked hard for my money”? Whichever side you come down on, we have to admit that James does come at the rich pretty hard. James is tell the wealthy that they have a social responsibility to use their wealthy righteously: (1) because it is temporary (vv. 1-3); (2) because it is right to pay those a fair wage who do a fair day’s labor (v. 4); (3) because righteousness is not self-indulgent nor does it selfishly corrupt justice in the courts (vv. 5-6)….

Lifestyle worshipers, lest you think James is just flying off the handle, he is actually remembering a sermon his older Brother once gave. Jesus preached stuff like this? Yep. It was in a sermon called, “The Sermon on the Plain,” (the cousin to “The Sermon on the Mount”) In it our Master says this: “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets” (Luke 6:24-26 NIV84).

The word, “woe,” is an intense word denoting a deep sense of compassionate concern for the dire outcome of one’s actions. James, like his Brother, Jesus, is very, very concerned how the scattered believers use their wealth. How do you feel about this? Do the wealthy have a social responsibility? To what degree? Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

— Matthew 6:24 (NIV84)

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 

— Matthew 6:21 (NIV84)

 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

— 1 Timothy 5:6-10 22 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, be Wisdom in me as I use what You have blessed me with to bless others. Continue to make me an instrument of Your presence to bring healing and not harm,  In Your Name Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Another Test Lab for Growing Up”

Date: 9-16-14

Text: James 2:1-4  My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? [NIV84]

The Big Idea: The test lab of relationships reveals your heart’s prejudices.

My Thoughts: 

The first test lab for growing up James presents is trials, those general challenges of life that are more than slivers. But he also presents a second test lab: Relationships. He brings up the subject in 1:9-11, and speaks about social status particularly between the rich and the poor. But he hits it head on in 2:1-4: The test lab of relationships reveals your heart’s prejudices. …

Lifestyle worshipers, we know we should not favor the rich over the poor. And perhaps this is easy for some, but what I find more difficult not to favor is the ‘lovelies’ over the ‘unlovelies’. Now, my definition of these two words may be somewhat different from yours, but a shared aspect is going to be something like this: the ‘lovelies’ are those I am comfortable with and click with versus ‘unlovelies’ whom I find very, very difficult embarrassing, and draining to be around.

I know that this test lab has a lot more revealing to do in my life. How about in yours? Any thoughts….

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

— Matthew 9:12-13 (NIV84)

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

— Romans 12:16 (NIV84)

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

— Philippians 2:1-5 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, forgive me for favoring the ‘lovelies’ and ignoring the ‘unlovelies’. I know Your Son mostly hung around with the ‘unlovelies’ of society, and I want to be more like Him. Cleanse me from this unrighteousness so that I may reflect His Life in me more clearly to those You truly Love far more than I can in my own strength. In Your Jesus’ Name Amen.

Pastor Mike