Every week, on Monday, we will have a blog for you with resources for diving deeper into the sermon.
This week, Mercy Hill’s pastors carried us further in the Of Two Minds series. As they preached through James 5:1-8, they pointed to the main idea that Christ’s return will expose the treasure of our hearts.
In verse 1, James speaks to the rich. Many of us don’t think that we are rich, but thinking in terms of the whole world, most of us are richer than a large majority. So, we can’t let the warning of James pass us by. But we must also understand that money is not inherently good or evil. It is what we do with it that is either good or bad. What we do with money can be an indication that we treasure money more than God.
Verses 2-3 show us the first indicator: we hoard money. If we treasure money more than God, we will store it up to feel secure. This is not to say that all saving of money is bad. There is a difference between setting aside money because it is wise (stewardship) and setting it aside because it gives your heart peace and security (self-imposed slavery). Either we will be slaves of money who need to hoard it, or we’ll be a conduit to others of the wealth that God has blessed us with.
In verse 4, we see the second indicator that we treasure money more than God: we withhold money from those who have earned it. When money is the end-goal of our work, we are more prone to be dishonest in our business dealings.
The third indicator is found in verse 5: we use money to build our kingdom. This is spending money self-indulgently without understanding that everything we have is God’s and using it up for our own pleasure and comfort. But James says that this is as ridiculous as a cow fattening themselves for slaughter. Someone who knows that Christ is returning to save those who trust in them is foolish to spend money on themselves.
In verse 6 we get James’ final indicator: we leverage people for money. The idea is that we will push people down so that we can get more money. Yet, this is opposite of the gospel. Jesus leveraged his life so that we could be brought out of death. But when we look at the gospel, we need to see how Jesus lived and ask ourselves if our handling of money reflects Jesus’ self-sacrificial generosity. If it doesn’t, we must ask ourselves whom it is that we treasure. If we are treasuring money, we must look to and believe in Christ. When we believe in Jesus, he frees us from the love of money and frees our money from our clenched hands.
So here is the big application for all of us: treasure Christ and wait for his return. To treasure Christ means he is our greatest love. Waiting for his return means we fix our hearts on the future reality so that it changes our present reality. Waiting means we can suffer in this life because our treasure is in the next. But waiting is worth it because we have found Jesus who is the true treasure.
James Reading Guide – We have broken the book of James down so we can read it over the course of the whole series together. This companion reading guide can be downloaded in full (with and introduction to the book) at the link provided.
-Alex Nolette (Equip Coordinator/Community Groups)