Middle School leader Lionel Segura stepped in for Brad as he was gone and continued the series of James. Lionel spoke on James 5:1-6 focusing on self-indulgence and the importance of investing in the eternal.
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.
Do any of you have anything that you love so much that you would have a hard time letting go of? I mean a really hard time giving up. Do any of you know who Michael Jordan is? Back in high school I had an obsession with Jordan brand shoes. I was a self proclaimed collector. These things were my prized possession. But they were expensive so I got a job to help pay for them. It was like a competition with other people at school to see who had the newest and best shoes. I remember one time my friends and I drove to Portland to camp out overnight for our most desired shoe: the Concord 11. It was December so it was freezing, and we just sat out there waiting to be able to get these shoes. And this wasn’t the only one, there were other campouts like this as well.
But this is just to give you an idea of the extreme that I went to for these shoes. I loved them, that’s what I strived for, it’s what I self-indulged in. It was even to the point that we would judge each other for what we had, or didn’t have.
And where do you think all those shoes are now? They’re just hanging out at my parent’s house. In reality, they were meaningless. I hardly think about them anymore. So why did I do this? So I ask you, what is it that’s part of your life that you indulge in more than you should?
Well, here we have a warning from James about a part of the human condition
Self- indulgence. It is characterized by doing or tending to do exactly what one wants, especially when this involves pleasure.
This warning is specifically to the wealthy, but it goes deeper than that. James is announcing their doom – it’s a wake up call. Now, it’s not a bad thing to be rich, but James is referring to these people due to their accumulation of wealth and for their method of getting there – primarily taking advantage of their workers in order to self-indulge.
We see in verse 1, Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Come now is an invitation. He says, the miseries that are coming upon you. James is speaking of a future day to come. It’s a warning because he is reminding them that there is a day in which miseries will come upon them. Their judgement is just as sure as the reward is for the Christians
I don’t know what discipline looks like in your house, but I remember my home. My dad took care of that. If I did something wrong with my mom or grandma I knew I’d have to wait until dad got home to face him. That period of time was almost as bad as having to face my dad. And sometimes it was just a sense of disappointing him that hurt more than the times that he was actually upset. He is my earthly father, we can’t really imagine it, but at least try to imagine that with God.
The weeping and howling that they have when their wealth is taken away does not even compare to the weeping and howling that they’ll cry out when their Creator is taken away from them. I’m not saying that you can lose your salvation. Your salvation is locked down the moment you say Yes to Jesus. This message is for people who have not placed their faith in Jesus and are invested in worldly things.
2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten.
James is still looking into the future and telling of what will happen to their possessions: rotted and moth-eaten. He’s calling their riches useless basically
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.
What year were you guys born? Some of you may be too young to remember, but in 2008 the US economy crashed. Many people lost everything that they had: Homes, money, and many more of their possessions. Here is a testimony of someone who placed their worth in their gold and silver. When the US stock market crashed in 2008, the chief financial officer of Freddie Mac, a French money manager who invested many of Europe’s leading families’ money lost over a billion dollars, so he took his own life.
As author Matt Papa put it, “What happened? Their god got crucified. These people set their gaze on the glory of wealth.” (pg. 31) In the words of philosopher Ravi Zacharias: “The loneliest moment in life is when you have just experienced what you thought would deliver the ultimate – and it has let you down.”
You see, the thing is that many times we are ignorant. We lie to ourselves thinking that worldly riches will bring us joy, we think that they’ll fill us. And they may temporarily. We also like to think that we are the exception. We get advice from others, as you are receiving right now, but we think to ourselves, “oh i’ll be good. That won’t happen to me. I wouldn’t be in a situation like that”. And Zacharias puts it very plain and clear: when we are let down by what we thought would deliver the ultimate, we find ourselves in a lonely place.
Why is that? It’s because God is the only One who can do that for us. He created us, he knows what it is we need.
What scares me is when James says, “their corrosion will be evidence against you”. Their accumulated possessions will be evidence of their self-indulgence the day that they stand their final trial before Jesus.
If you are struggling with this, this is what Jesus said about it in Matthew 6:19-21: “19 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”
Where is your heart? Don’t lay up your treasures on earth, where at BEST those treasures are temporary. So are you laying up treasures on earth or in heaven?
In verse 4 we see: “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.”
So most likely due to their selfish ambitions and their state of heart, they have not given their workers their wages. The owners find themselves facing trouble because the cries of the laborers have reached the ultimate judge – God almighty. You know, I am really grateful for the father that God has given me. He’s a very hardworking man. He grew up in a small country in central America and was one of seven kids and they had close to nothing. He always had a lot of initiative and took it upon himself to help support his family. He once got a job in a motorcycle shop to help support his family. When he started, a couple weeks went by and they never paid him. It got to the point where his mom told him not to go back because they would never pay him.
5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.
How many of you know much about cattle? Well, I don’t know much, BUT, a good friend of mine does, Brad. He grew up on a farm and I’ve actually learned a about cattle from him. All I’ve really learned is that a steer is another name for a cow that cannot reproduce. BUT think of cattle in the field just eating and eating – self-indulging. Ignorantly moving towards their slaughter. All they are really focused on is eating, focused on themselves.
In this way, the rich that James is referring to here have indulged in luxuries and things pertaining to just themselves and have not realized where they are headed: the final slaughter. But it isn’t just a physical death, it’s a spiritual death.
6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
Here James reminds these people of what they have done in such a selfish way in order to reach the worldly desires of their hearts.Yet, the righteous and oppressed person, the ones who are taken advantaged of does not resist them. They have turned the other cheek.
I know you are all in middle school so you may be thinking, “how does this apply to me? I’m not rich or I don’t have a ton of money in order to store up things for myself” But deep down in our hearts we have self-indulgence of some sort
There’s a couple things to note: Like I said, you guys may not have money to give, but what do you have that you could give that you are selfish with and not willing to give up? Is it time? you can share your time with family and friends and having initiative to help out around the house. Or maybe you do have money sometimes from allowance or gifts and you notice that someone is in need and you help them out. You guys are in the best time of your life to start building these habits. But if you just get in the habit of receiving, of self-indulging, it’ll be super hard later on to get in the habit of giving. You’ll always want more and say “once I get to this point, then I can give.” Give what you can and don’t store up for yourselves.
The other thing to note is that it goes deeper than money, because it’s not a bad thing to be rich, like i said earlier. There are many generous Christians here at UFC. I can think of one specifically who I know pretty well who has an awesome house with a massive pool. And he let’s others come over all the time to enjoy his house. He doesn’t self-indulge, it’s not for himself. He uses it for church events and the greater good of the Kingdom. So again, being rich isn’t wrong. The issue here in this text is the human condition – that we are self-indulgent. We only care about ourselves and our needs. At the root of it, we are our own God.
It’s silly to store up for the short term that we are here in comparison to eternity. Read Ecclesiastes 2:4-11.
What we learn from Ecclesiastes is that life is a vapor. Think of what vapor does. It’s here for a moment and it’s gone the next. Think about it, that’s what our life here on earth is. You get to live here an “X” amount of years…ask yourself, are you going to spend that time storing up treasures that are meaningless here on earth, as the writer of Ecclesiastes exclaimed, or are you going to spend that time storing up treasures in heaven that last eternally?
I know you all may be asking to yourselves, how do we lay up treasures in heaven? What does that even mean? It means, invest deeply in those things that will last eternally. Our money, video games, our fidget spinners – we won’t be taking those things with us. But what will we see with us there – people.
Invest in souls. Tell them of who Jesus is and invite them into relationship with Him
And the great thing is that we don’t have to do it by our own strength or without guidance because we have the privilege of gazing our eyes upon One whom has already done so: Jesus.
Lastly, we are reminded by Paul that Jesus, who although was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped. Think about that, He had it ALL in HEAVEN. Jesus did not self-indulge when He very well could have. I know many of us have gotten to know each other well over the last year. I think about you guys often, I pray for you, I lift you up to God, But, man, if I were in heaven, I don’t know, I think I’d have a hard time coming back down to earth where it’s such a mess. Not only that but then having to be tempted and conquer that and then to have to put up with 12 goofballs, and be humiliated and mocked.
Yet, He emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, and humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. From heaven, from perfection…to brutal death on a cross.This is the ultimate sign of humility and not laying up treasures for oneself on earth. Now, I’m not saying that you have to go and give your life up, because Jesus already did that. What I am getting at is that Jesus died to reconcile a relationship with God Almighty so that you wouldn’t have to worry about earthly riches, but so that He could come alongside you and walk you through this life as He guides you to lay up treasures in heaven.