INTRODUCTION: Joseph’s life is the story of coats. Joseph wore a different coat at each major event in his life. The coats reveal Joseph’s relationship with God and others. We also wear many different coats on our Christian journey. Our new sermon series, “Joseph: The Story of Coats” will help us discover the coats we wear on our journey. Today we will look at the Coat of Blessing. Our Father has given each of us a coat of blessing.
WHAT IS THE COAT OF BLESSING?
*Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph and gave him a special robe that signified his father’s favor. Joseph’s brothers longed for their father’s blessing too. “Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him” (Genesis 37:3-4).
*The blessing is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance that is given from one generation to another. Through the blessing children and adults receive the message that they are highly valued, deeply loved, and have a hopeful future. Everybody needs to feel blessed. Jacob should have known this. He stole the blessing from his brother Esau and fled to another country. Esau found out and begged his father Isaac for a blessing: “As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, ‘Bless me, even me also, O my father!’ But he said, ‘Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing’” (Genesis 27:34-35).
*When we do not get the blessing we often try to seek it in unhealthy ways that lead to emotional, physical and spiritual problems. Joseph’s brothers felt rejected and turned their hurt into hostility and hatred. “So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan…So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. And they took him and threw him into a pit” (Genesis 37:17-24).
HOW DO YOU RECEIVE AND GIVE THE BLESSING?
*God designed us to receive and give the blessing. “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them” (Mark 10:13-16).
*Dr. John Trent says that there are five elements of biblical blessing that all of us can give and receive:
Appropriate meaningful touch – a hug, laying on of hands
A spoken message -words of acceptance and affirmation
Attaching high value – word pictures that show great worth
A special future – your blessing gives hope and inspiration
A genuine commitment – letting the person know you will always be there for them through thick and thin with no strings attached.
WHAT IF YOU MISSED THE BLESSING?
*Dr. Tim Sledge writes in Making Peace with Your Past that there are three steps toward healing if you missed the blessing:
Admit that you are still seeking the blessing.
Stop seeking the blessing where you cannot find it.
Look for the blessing where it can be found.
*Joseph’s brothers finally found their blessing from Israel and Joseph. All these are the twelve tribes of Israel. This is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each with the blessing suitable to him (Genesis 49:48).
*Ultimately we need to look to God as our Heavenly Father who wants to bless us. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3).
* When you follow Jesus Christ you become a child of God and receive the coat of blessing. For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring,heirs according to promise (Galatians 3:26-29).
*Jesus said, “Bless those who curse you” (Luke 6:28). We need to practice blessing others. Try this: May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth! (Psalm 115:15).
INTRODUCTION: Repeat with me The Mystery of the Faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again! This is the substance and essence of the Lord’s Supper. This became evident to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus when they invited Jesus into their home and they broke bread together. The “breaking of bread” in the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts is a term used for the Lord’s Supper, the fellowship meal instituted by Jesus Christ. The Lord’s Supper has always been the place where we meet Jesus and he welcomes us. It is the place of communion with Christ. Let’s see how these two disciples experienced Jesus in the “breaking of bread.”
THE LORD’S SUPPER REVEALS CHRIST’S DEATH (24:25-27).
In the Lord’s Supper we remember that we are forgiven and delivered by Jesus’ sacrifice.
THE LORD’S SUPPER REVEALS CHRIST’S RESURRECTION (28-32).
*The two disciples invited Jesus to their table and Jesus revealed himself as he broke bread. The early church brought food and drink to a community meal as an offering to the Lord and as a feast for sharing (1 Corinthians 11, Jude 12).
Inthe Lord’s Supper we have the promise of Jesus’ presence and the practice of true community.
THE LORD’S SUPPER REVEALS CHRIST’S RETURN (33-35).
* The two disciples recognized Christ in the breaking of bread and realized that Jesus was alive. The Lord’s Supper became the focal point of the early church’s meetings and created a new kingdom community (Acts 2: 42; 20:7).
* The Lord’s Supper looks forward to the future. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26).
* We gather to take the Lord’s Supper now in anticipation of the day we will eat together around Christ’s table in his new kingdom. The Lord’s Supper should be a time of joy and celebration! “And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb’” (Revelation 19:9).
In the Lord’s Supper we have hope for the future and anticipate the Lord’s return.
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!
INTRODUCTION: Peter told the Jerusalem Council how the Gentiles had received salvation under his ministry and concluded “We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are” (Acts 15:11). It is through the love, grace, sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we are saved. Easter reminds us that the Cross was required to make us right with God. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ proves that he has the power to give us eternal life. The Cross brings salvation and demonstrates God’s love. The Resurrection gives us a fresh start and the power to live a new life! But sometimes we doubt that we can ever change. We are so ashamed of who we are that we feel we are helpless, worthless, and undeserving of love. How does the Cross erase the shame of sin? How does the Resurrection give us the power to change and hope for the future?
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GUILT AND SHAME?
*Guilt has to do with behavior. Guilt comes when we know we have done something wrong or failed to do something right. We have violated a God-given standard. Guilt is a positive emotion that leads us to change our behavior. Paul experienced guilt, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19).
*Shame has to do with being. Shame is more than remorse for bad behavior. Shame is an internal sense of self-worthlessness, a sense of being a failure as a human being. It is self-torment for being an awful person. Paul said it this way: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24).
*Shame leads to a cycle of wretched (hopeless and joyless) living. Shame says “I am what I am. I can’t change. I am hopeless.” Some common results of shame-based living are inferiority, destructive behavior, self-pity, and passivity. Shame often leads to chronic depression.
*Adam and Eve experienced shame after they sinned. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed… So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food…she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leavestogether and made themselves loincloths…and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden (Genesis 2:25 – 3:8).
*The cycle of shame goes like this: Guilt breeds shame which feeds bad behavior which produces guilt which creates shame.
HOW DOES THE NEWBIRTH REMOVE MY SHAME?
*The Cross of Jesus Christ breaks the cycle of sin – guilt – shame. “So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit – and this power is mine through Christ Jesus – has freed me from the vicious circle of sin and death. We aren’t saved from sin’s grasp by knowing the commandments of God because we can’t and don’t keep them, but God put into effect a different plan to save us. He sent his own Son in a human body like ours – except that ours are sinful – and destroyed sin’s control over us by giving himself as a sacrifice for our sins. So now we can obey God’s laws if we follow after the Holy Spirit and no longer obey the old evil nature within us” (Romans 8:1-4 TLB).
*What God did through the Cross:
No condemnation in Christ (1)
Freedom through the Holy Spirit (2)
Completion of the Law (3-4)
Destruction of sin (3)
Power to change (4)
*The Holy Spirit brings regeneration through the power of the Resurrection. Regeneration is a spiritual rebirth. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead can give you new life. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Cor. 5:17).
Because of regeneration I have been made brand new, complete in Christ. Because of Christ’s redemption, I am a new creation of infinite worth. I no longer need to experience the pain of shame.
CONCLUSION: You must personally accept what Jesus Christ did for you on the Cross! You must believe Jesus has the power to save you and receive him as your savior. “But to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God. All they needed to do was to trust him to save them. All those who believe this are reborn! – not a physical rebirth resulting from human passion or plan – but from the will of God” (John 1:12-13 TLB).
INTRODUCTION: Peter told the Jerusalem Council how the Gentiles had received salvation under his ministry and concluded “We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are” (Acts 15:11). It is through the love, grace, sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we are saved. Easter reminds us that the Cross was required to make us right with God. The Cross brings salvation and demonstrates God’s love. The Cross makes us right with God through justification and restores broken relationships through reconciliation. The penalty for sin has been paid and there is no more need for punishment. Yet we continue to fear punishment. How has the Cross taken away the fear of punishment? How does the Cross eliminate the need to blame and condemn?
WE FEAR PUNISHMENT WHEN WE DO WRONG.
*Sin causes separation from God, other people, and me. Adam and Eve hid from God. Adam became afraid of God because he realized he had disobeyed God. He blamed Eve to justify his own sin and wrong-doing. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
*The person who blames says, “Those who fail (including myself) are unworthy of love and deserve to be punished.” The person who blames is plagued with feelings of guilt and self-condemnation. Their guilt is fueled by the fear of punishment. To escape punishment, we deny our guilt feelings, we rationalize our failures and sins, and we blame others. Luke 18:10-11 says, “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector.’”
GOD’S MERCY TAKES AWAY FEAR OF PUNISHMENT.
*The Cross of Jesus Christ provides propitiation for our sin. Propitiation means that a sacrifice has been made to remove our sins and to make us favorable to God. “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).
*God’s wrath is satisfied, sin is punished, and mercy is granted at the Cross. There is no more need for punishment. We do not have to beat up ourselves or others. “There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 18:13-14).
*God loves you. He proved it at the Cross! God’s forgiveness enables us to forgive others and experience mercy. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice(propitiation) for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11).
Have you accepted the forgiveness and mercy God has given you through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross?
INTRODUCTION: The very nature of the gospel was at stake! Some Jewish converts started teaching the Lord’s followers that they could not be saved unless they were circumcised as Moses had taught. Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to meet with the leaders and discuss how a person becomes a follower of Jesus. Peter told the story of how the Gentiles had received salvation under his ministry and concluded “No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are” (Acts 15:11). It is through the love, grace, sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we are saved. Easter reminds us that the Cross was required to make us right with God.
Only by way of the Cross do we experience God’s love and salvation. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Let’s examine how the Cross brings salvation and demonstrates God’s love.
WE ALL HAVE A SIN PROBLEM.
*Sin causes separation from God, other people, and me. Adam and Eve hid from God and blamed others for their sin. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
*Guilt feelings come when our thoughts and behavior fall short of our ideals. Adam became afraid of God because he realized he had disobeyed God. “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24).
*Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves with fig leaves when they became aware of their sin. We try to conceal our guilt with deceptive games and self-justifying behavior. “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9).
THE CROSS MAKES US RIGHT WITH GOD.
*The Cross of Jesus Christ provides justification with God which leads
to peace. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:1, 8).
*Justification is more than forgiveness. It means that God erases my sin and credits to me the righteousness of Jesus. I am now fully pleasing to God and have peace with him. “The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:23-25).
God’s truth: Because of justification I am completely forgiven by and fully pleasing to God.
THE CROSS RESTORES BROKENRELATIONSHIPS.
*Adam and Eve broke fellowship with God and each other when they sinned. God provides the Cross for reconciliation. Reconciliation means former enemies become friends. The Cross restores our relationship with God and with others. “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
*You are God’s friends. You are accepted and forgiven by God. You no longer must seek the approval of others. “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:10-11).
*Because of what Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross, nothing can make us unacceptable to God. We have God’s complete seal of approval. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
God’s Truth: I am a friend of God. I can be your friend too.
INTRODUCTION: “No matter what, I’ll always be there for you.” That is a commitment every believer can make to brothers and sisters in Christ. James provides some clear guidelines on how we can pray effectively. James outlines the purpose, process and the power of prayer in James 5:13-18. But it is not just enough to pray. We need to put feet to our prayers. When someone is in trouble and we can help, we need to rescue that person. Like the parable Jesus told of the lost sheep, we need to leave the 99 in the pasture and go after the sheep that has wandered away from the flock (Luke 15:1-7). Every Christian is responsible for the spiritual welfare of fellow believers. We are our brother’s keeper. James tells us how to save straying souls and rescue the perishing in James 5:19-20.
CHRISTIANS CAN GET ON THE WRONGPATH.
*Christians can stray from the truth and get lost. “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth…” (19).
*The wanderer has a wrong view of sin or a wrong view of Jesus. Jesus is truth. Whenever we leave Jesus we enter errors that lead to sin. “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (20).
“If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is .in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:6-7).
*The outcome of wandering is an epidemic of sin, destruction and death. “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (20).
CHRISTIANS CAN RESCUE A WANDERINGSOUL.
*Like the shepherd seeking the lost sheep, we need to rescue fellow
believers who have walkedaway from Jesus. “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back…” (19).
*We must be proactive and take the initiative to go help the lost soul. “Remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (20).
*We must be careful to go with the right attitude and in the spirit of love. “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death…”
Be spiritually ready, gentle, and humble when you help a straying saint. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2).
Let everything you do be done in love. Love refuses to see faults. Love no longer sees the sins of the saved sinner. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
Let’s make a commitment to one another: No matter what, I will always be there for you.
INTRODUCTION: It is easy to murmur and complain when we suffer (James 5:9) A better response is to pray and bring God into the situation. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). James provides some clear guidelines on how we can pray effectively. James outlines the purpose, process and the power of prayer in James 5:13-18.
THE PURPOSE OF PRAYER (5:13).
*Pray when you are in trouble, suffering or in distress of some kind. “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray” (13).
*Praise and sing when you are joyful and filled with gratitude to God. “Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise” (13).
THE PROCESS OF PRAYER (5:14-16).
*What should you do and how should you pray when you are sick, afflicted, or incapacitated?
“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord” (14).
Ask for help and prayer from the church and its leaders.
Use all appropriate medicines as well as prayers of faith.
“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven” (15).
Trust God to heal you physically and spiritually.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (16).
Confess all known sin, restore broken relationships, and ask for forgiveness.
THE POWER OF PRAYER (5:16-18).
*Forgiven people pray powerfully and effectively. The principle of prayer: “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
*An example of effective and powerful prayer: “Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops” (James 5:16-18).
INTRODUCTION: Does your life match your lips? James returns to the subject of speech and the use of the tongue (James 1:19, 26 and 3:1-12). It is easy to murmur and complain when suffering (James 5:9) but it is also easy to make promises you cannot keep and justify those promises with empty guarantees. “Cross my heart and hope to die.” “I swear on my mother’s grave.” “I swear to tell the truth…so help me God.” Oaths are commonly used to support the truthfulness of the person making the promise and often invoke name of God. James says a person who lives a life of integrity does not need to make oaths. Their word is their bond. Their character is their guarantee.
OATHS AIM TO GUARANTEE THE TRUTH BUT DON’T.
*Oaths are a form of profanity or swearing. Literally, “do not swear” means “to grasp something sacred firmly, for the purpose of supporting what you are saying or doing.” It violates the Third Commandment because it misuses the name of the Lord (Exodus 20). “Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else” (James 5:12).
*Oaths indicate a rash statement or a lack of control in the heat of the moment. They are often flippant in nature and are designed to by-pass the Third Commandment. “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7).
*Oaths cast doubt on a person’s honesty. Oaths are necessary in court and legal agreements because people tend to lie. Oaths will be judged severely. Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear…Otherwise you will be condemned (James 5:12).
*Jesus condemns the misuse of oaths and James quotes him. Jesus refuted the common practice of binding and non-binding oaths. “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’sthrone; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one (Matthew 5:33-37).
A PERSON OF TRUTH DOES NOT NEED PLEDGES.
*Truthful people’s words are verified by their character and life. “All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No” (James 5:12).
*An honest person respects God, uses simple speech and controls his or her tongue. Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned (James 5:12).
*Prayer and praise are better ways to express emotions during difficult times. Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise (James 5:13).
INTRODUCTION: The discussion of greed and the chase after profits (James 4) leads James to comment on the injustices that come with the misuse of riches. James rails against the rich and powerful and their oppression of the poor and laborers (James 5:1-6). Many Christians were among the poor and abused workers that the rich had exploited. How are they to respond? The temptation is to murmur and complain, but James speaks out against the injustices. He also encourages fellow believers to be patient and lean on God during the times of suffering. Jesus is coming soon, and we are to be patient and strong until he comes.
PATIENT PEOPLE SEE THE BIGPICTURE AND WAIT ON GOD.
“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains” (7)
They are long-suffering instead of short-tempered.
They wait on the Lord as the farmer waits on rain.
PATIENT PEOPLE HAVE HOPE, STANDSTRONG AND ENDURE.
“You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near” (8).
They have an active endurance without self-pity despite the difficulty.
The Lord is nearer today than yesterday.
PATIENT PEOPLE ENCOURAGE AND SUPPORT OTHERS INSTEAD OF COMPLAIN AND BLAME.
“Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!” (9).
They refuse to be resentful and play the “blame game.”
“Love is patient…” (1 Corinthians 13:4).
The leave the circumstances to God.
PATIENT PEOPLE LEAN ON GOD’S GOODNESS WHEN LIFE IS ROUGH.
Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know,we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (10-11).
They have a steadfast submission to God despite their doubts.
The prophets of old are examples of patient endurance (Hebrews 11).
Job persisted in unbending faith and was blessed.
God is a compassionate and merciful Judge.
Jesus is coming soon, and we are to be patient and strong until he comes.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).
INTRODUCTION: James writes that ‘anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God’ (James 4:4). He warns Christians against greed and leaving God out of their plans. They need to lean on God and say, “if it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:15). The discussion of greed and the chase after profits leads James to comment on the injustices that come with the misuse of riches. James rails against the rich and powerful and their oppression of the poor and laborers. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).
WARNINGS ON THE MISUSE OF WEALTH.
*Based on self-centeredness. “You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter” (James 5:5).
Oblivious to spiritual things and hurting people
*Leads to injustice. “Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty…You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you” (James 5:4-6).
Withhold wages due to workers
Lack compassion for the poor and working man
Practice legal and social oppression
*Focuses on short-sighted and transitory goals. “Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days” (James 5:2-3).
Investment is in material not eternal goals
Temporary things will waste away
*Ignores the coming judgment.
The rich will be punished severely. “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you” (James 5:1).
The rich are ignorant of the last days and coming judgment. “Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days” (James 5:3).
God knows the private and social injustices of the workers. “Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty” (James 5:4).
The oppressive rich will reap what they sow. “You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you” (James 5:6).
TACTICS FOR THE COMPASSIONATE USE OF WEALTH.
*Seek first the kingdom of God, not wealth (5:1-3). “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
*The laborer is worthy of his hire (5:4). “For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages” (1 Timothy 5:18).
*Manage wealth wisely(5:5). “Though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them” (Psalm 62:10).
*Practice the goldenrule in your use of money (5:6). “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
*Remember the poor and needy (5:5-6). “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along” (Galatians 2:10).