Jan 6, 2019 – Laying Up Treasure
Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series – James: Distilling Faith
James 5:1-8 (ESV)
1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. 4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
7 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
James’ severe warning about riches confronts a theological problem in impulsive humans.
1. Self indulgence in the last days
- v5 “lived on the earth in luxury and self indulgence”
- v4 “wages… which you kept back by fraud”
- v3 “you have laid up treasure in the last days”
- v6 “you have condemned and murdered”
2. Evidence that condemns
- v4 “the wages of the laborers… are crying out”
- v4 “the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord”
- v3 “your gold and silver… their corrosion will be evidence against you”
3. Patience rooted in our hearts
- v6 “… the righteous person. He does not resist you” (Matthew 5)
- vv7-8 “see how the farmer waits… be patient. Establish your hearts…”
Questions for Reflection
- How does money function in your life? What do you most easily spend money on? How do you save (what principles or methods)? What are you willing to give up to save, what are you not? What are you willing to go into debt for?
- If you reflect on your financial priorities, what does it indicate about what you want in life? How are your values and goals tied to your pursuit of money or use of it?
- What are acceptable ways of using money for your own enjoyment, and when does it become “self indulgence” (unethical)?
- What guidelines direct how a Christian should think about saving? What kinds of things can one save for, and how much is enough? When does it become hoarding?
- How can you faithfully steward your assets? If love of God and neighbor were your top priorities, how would your budget or spending habits change?
- Does the awareness that we will give an account for how we have stewarded God’s resources inspire more faithful use of them? What theological principles inspire wise and ethical uses of money?
- James warns us to be patient, recognizing we will be tempted in our dissatisfaction to find satisfaction in things that money can provide for us. How can you be stronger? How can you better resist temptation? How can you be satisfied enough in Christ to press on where you are lacking? How can hope foster patient endurance?
- How do you understand the return of Jesus and how that should impact your daily life?
Prayer of Confession
Our Father, we confess we are self indulgent. Our impulses control us far more than we recognize. In our longings and feelings of need, we don’t wait on you, but we hope in other things. Forgive us for looking to money as though it had any real power to satisfy and fulfill us. Forgive our greed, our hoarding, our unjust treatment of others. Forgive our impatience and unbelief. Satisfy us with your presence and fill us with your Spirit so that our hope in you would stir greater patience and joyful endurance. Amen.