Last week we looked into James 4:13-17 and saw James condemn the arrogance of the wealthy. Why? Recall from the text that rather than submitting to the sovereign will of God these wealthy businessmen decided to form future plans and schemes to make a profit as if they were completely independent from God Himself. It seems true that the eyes of the wealthy in James’ original audience easily look to the same thing the eyes of the wealthy look to today – salvation by compensation, the promise of worldly riches and lavish luxury.
Do not be fooled into thinking that James is finished with his critique of the wealthy when chapter 4 ends and chapter 5 begins. As we mentioned before paper was scarce in the first century, and when James wrote his letter he wrote in Greek using all caps, no periods, no commas, no punctuation, and no chapter and verse numbers. All of these things were added later to help organize what we have before us.
So as chapter 5 begins what we see is a continuation of James’ critique of the wealthy. Before he condemned their pride and arrogance, here in 5:1-6 James presses the wealthy even harder by criticizing their ungodly use of wealth. A quick glance over the whole of James reveals that there is no other passage quite like 5:1-6. In all of James this is without a doubt the harshest, most severe word James has for his community. We learn something here that we’re going to put into practice today. James cared for his audience too much to not mention these things. It would have been easier to leave 5:1-6 out all together and just move on to his concluding encouragements, but he didn’t. He loved them, and told it to them straight rather than softening the truth and catering to his hearers desires.
Therefore, I am going to talk about something today that will offend some of you. As James did with his community, so I must do so now. To not tell you these things is to not love you well as your pastor. It may be easier for all of us to move onto 5:7 and get to the closing encouragements James has for us without going through 5:1-6, but is not every word in Scripture inspired by God, inerrant, and infallible, written down for our instruction? Indeed it is. So you know what we’re going talk about today? Money. Not only money, we’re going to talk about your money. And not only your money, we’re going to talk about how you use your money and what your money ought to be used for. But before we get to that point we need to walk through our text to see the reason James used such severe words against the wealthy here.