The Book of James Message Fourteen

V. Instrucion on Humility. 4:1-5:6
A. Covetousness
1. Revealed the problem. James 4:1a
2. Recognized the cause. James 4:1-5
3. Recommended the solution. James 4:6-10
B. Criticism of the brethren. 4:11,12
Pride can raise our estimation of ourselves and our abilities, while we look down on others, we raise our –
C. Confidence in self. 4:13-17

James’ warning of these characteristics – covetousness, criticism, confidence in self, concludes with the –

D. Condemnation of the ungodly rich. 5:1-6 (trust in riches)

1. The exhortation to them. James 5:1
We need to know that James is not rebuking church members in particular, but all men in general, including believers, making them aware of the dangers and warning them of the judgment appointed to those who turn from the love of God and their neighbors to the love of power, position, and possessions.

In writing Psalm 73, the psalmist has accurately described the feelings that many of us have had or are having as we consider the prosperity of others, especially the prosperity of those that do not confess faith in God. Read Psalm 73
The Lord is reminding us here again of the danger that the love of wealth can bring into our lives. Even believers can become like unto the lost in the pursuit of wealth and power. As Paul so plainly wrote –

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Note the testimony of Achan. The men of Israel had been given clear instructions not to take any of the property they came across in battle for the city of Jericho. Achan did not obey the command of God and his sin effected the army of Israel. When brought to trial, he gave this excuse –

Joshua 7:20-21 And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.

This is the attitude that James is condemning in this portion of his letter. Even though the wealthy people he is speaking to may not have stolen outright, they are robbing God and man through their attitudes and actions.

The pattern is always the same – seeing, coveting, taking.

2. The evidence against them. James 5:2-3b

a). Worthless in the sight of God. 5:2,3a
“…are corrupted…are moth eaten…is cankered…”
b). Evidence of their unrighteousness. 5:3b
“…shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire.”

3. The explanation of their actions. James 5:3c-6

These live a life in the realm of negative behaviour – ‘Never’ being the guiding principle –

a. Never enough! “…heaped treasure together…” 5:3b

Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?

b. Never trusting! “…kept back by fraud…” 5:4 The thought –
“If I give it away, how will I regain it.”
“My employees can afford to wait to get paid.”
“If I give my money away and then have a need, they cannot afford to give back to me.” “I will keep what I have for myself and will pay them when I can!”

c. Never in peace! “…lived in pleasure …being wanton…” 5:5

Ecclesiastes 5:12 The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.

d. Never satisfied! “…condemned and killed the just…” 5:6
People are simply a resource to them to provide what they need and what they want. The people are as expendable as their stock animals in the time of slaughter or the products of the earth.

1). King David disposed of Urijah in order to have his wife.
2). Jezebel killed Naboth in order to give his vineyard to Ahab for a present.
Both of these just men were considered to simply be nuisances to be dealt with.
James speaks of their ownership which they will not be able to deny as they stand before the Righteous Judge –
“Your riches”
“Your garments”
“Your gold” and being understood –
“Your silver”.
As much as they owned these things, they must accept ownership of the consequences –
“Your miseries”!
What could have been a blessing has become a curse because they rejected humility and embraced pride looking only to the exaltation of self!
We are not a repository of God’s wealth, we are agents of God’s wealth. We are to use and disperse it at His direction. God’s blessings are to flow through us to others!

About sjbjburke

I am an evangelist that enjoys Bible study and I look forward to posting outlines and receiving helpful comments. My wife and I celebrated our 52nd wedding anniversary in 2022 and we enjoy serving the Lord together.
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