TEXT: James 5:1-8
1 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.
5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.
6 Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.
7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
The Love of Money Trap, Part 2 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #63)
The love of money is not a harmless indulgence as it often leads one down a path of sin in the pursuit of more money. One who loves money above all else will often have the tendency to do whatever it takes to get and keep more of it. That is the issue we will address today from verses 4, 5, and 6 of our passage.
As we emphasized last week, money is not bad; being wealthy is not bad. It is only when we place money, wealth, and material possessions above God that we are led astray. That is what happened to Demas, one of the Apostle Paul’s ministry associates who was with Paul during his first Roman imprisonment. In a letter to Timothy, Paul writes, “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed.” This man is only mentioned three times in Scripture, and we are not given much information about him — only that he was a “fellow worker” with Paul and Luke, and then he forsook them.
However, Herbert*Lockyear provides the following sketch of Demas in his book, “All the Men of the Bible.” He writes, “Before he met Paul, we can picture Demas as an agreeable young man with no particular vice. Under the strong influence of Paul’s personality, Demas was like a piece of soft iron, temporarily magnetized by the presence of a magnet. Becoming a disciple, he was carried away by the enthusiasm of sacrifice. But when Demas came up to the great capital of the then known world in company with the Lord’s prisoners, Paul and Epaphras, it was a different story. He was not a prisoner, and gradually the contrast between the cell and the outer world became intolerable to him. He saw the magnificent halls of the Caesars, the gorgeous homes of the rich and the glitter of a world of music, jest, and wine. Such a world cast its glamor over Demas, and he yielded to its charms.”
How many people, today, are present in church services, but have their hearts in the world? Their true affection is for money and what it can do for them. However, the love of money can also cause us to do some things we would not otherwise do. James addresses this issue when he says, “Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.”
James’ letter is addressed to the body of believers, however, this passage specifically targets the wealthy businessmen of his day, some of whom were in the church. He calls them out for withholding the pay of the labourers who worked in their fields. They even used their influence in the courts to keep the poor oppressed. Dr. John Walvoord and Roy Zuck state, “It is not the wealth itself that is condemned, but the greedy attitude toward it and the grisly actions with which it was obtained. God is not deaf to the cries of injustice that rise both from wages withheld in fraud and from the laborers who have been oppressed by the rich… In the scramble for more wealth, the rich used their influence in courts of justice, and in the process were guilty of bringing condemnation and even death to innocent men who offered no resistance. What began as an interest in money ended as an insensitivity to murder.”
Look where the love of money leads. Such actions are, unfortunately, still going on today all around the globe. Some of the products that we are able to waltz into grocery stores and clothing stores to buy come from the hands of people who are overworked and underpaid, and who do their jobs in very poor conditions. According to the International Labour Organisation there are around 21 million men, women and children in a form of slavery today. Just like the Hebrews in ancient Egypt and just like blacks and Indians in America, the cries of those who are oppressed for monetary gain “enter into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.” This word, “sabaoth”, is not referring to the sabbath. Rather, it means the “Lord of armies” or “Lord of hosts.” The use of this title is meant to give a warning to those who oppress others in order to build up their own wealth: God is a God of fairness and justice, and He will not long abide by the suffering of the oppressed.
Unfortunately, in the church, we have a form of this oppression happening. It is commonly referred to as the “prosperity gospel” — the idea that God wants His children to be rich, or that salvation equals wealth. According to TIME magazine, 17% of Christians in America openly identify with the prosperity gospel. This nation has also exported this false narrative of the Christian life to Africa. Although prosperity gospel preachers will tell you that God wants you to be wealthy, more often than not, what turns out to be the case is that the preacher gets wealthy through offerings, “seed” gifts, and the selling of books, tapes, and CDs, while the majority of the people they are supposed to lead remain poor and struggle to get by.
God sees these preachers who prey on the sheep as no better than the wealthy businessmen described by James, who abuse their employees in order to receive financial gain. In fact, James’ words could be applied to some today: “Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.” The word “wanton” means “to live luxuriously, to lead a voluptuous life.” The “day of slaughter” refers to the holy days of the Jewish calendar in which animals were slaughtered and the people feasted on their meat.
God did not call us to live in luxury in this world. He did not call us to pursue our own pleasure above all else. More often than not, the Christian life is a path of difficulty, not ease. God never commanded His people to seek money or material prosperity for its own sake. He also never promised that He would give us money or material prosperity as a result of salvation. If anything, the Bible glorifies those who are poor in material possessions or status. James 1:9-11 says, “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.”
Once again, the essence of James’ message comes back to Jesus’ words: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Where is your heart? Is your heart set on money and material possessions to the point where you will hurt others to get more of it? Or is your heart set on the Gospel and how it changes and transforms lives? When we stand before Christ on the day of judgment, let it not be said of us, “Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth…”
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If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you briefly how you can be saved from your sins and be guaranteed a home in Heaven with God today.
First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.
But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.