Western Trail Cowboy Church
For the Love of Money
  • Introduction

    We just finished a section that dealt with people saying what they will do in the future. This is what a mind set on material things and worldly passions will do.
    Now, James is rebuking this living even more than in the last section. He zero’s in on worldly desires and passion for wealth. In James 5:1-6
    James 5:1–6 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.
    Powerful rebuke. Powerful and very pointed for sure. Much like Ebenezer Scrooge.
    I am sure everyone here knows the book or movie “A Christmas Carol.” In it we have one very greedy and bitter man, Ebenezer Scrooge. He has made a fortune with his old friend and colleague Marley.
    Marley died and it was all Scrooges. He was so tight he would not allow his employee to have more than one piece of coal to keep warm with. He paid him the bare minimum to get by.
    He was holding back money he could be paying him for himself who did not even enjoy money. He just hoarded it and worshipped it. He did not enjoy it for anything but just having it.
    Marley visited him followed by three other ghosts. He saw his past, present, and future. In the past he abandoned everything good for his wealth. In the present he saw his employees home, Bob Cratchit. He saw the simple and joyful times. But the sad discomfort and ill Tiny Tim.
    Finally, the ghost of the future took him to his end. He did not see the date and asked if this was a shadow of the things that will be or the things that might be.
    He was not told but taken back to his time with a decision to be made.
    You see, Scrooge wanted money over everything and did not want anything to stop him. He was judged and commanded to weep and mourn in a way, his money was worthless as Marley told him about the chain he had to bear for all eternity, he was defrauding Bob Cratchit, he was depriving Tiny Tim of the healthcare he needed, and finally his greed was causing death.
    That is what this section is about. It is about those who have wealth who only care about that money. They do not help others but use others for more for themselves. James is not saying being wealthy is evil or a sin, but that the love of wealth over the Lord and others is.
    Paul said the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Jesus said we can not serve two masters money and Him without loving one and hating the other. That is what James is saying too.
    James is saying that the love of money is the item that pushes self-sufficiency and hatred of God. It is prideful and arrogant and it does nothing but cause grief upon grief.
    Just like what happened to Scrooge…

    The Love of Money Brings Judgment (1)

    Explain: Come now is just like in the last section. It is a strong command for those who are wealthy. Some take this to be directed at the unbelieving rich and others at the believing rich. I take it to be at both. James is telling them that they should be weeping and howling for the miseries to come upon them.
    This is the punishment that is sure to come to them if they remain self-sufficient and in love with their wealth. This is for people who love their material possessions more than the Lord. Those who desire money so much that they never honor God. They will work every day and never take any of that and use it for the Lord’s work.
    They hoard and keep it and never let it out of their sight, much like Scrooge from above. Money and wealth is their god and nothing else matters anymore. They are being warned that judgment is coming and they had better weep and mourn over their sinful lifestyle and turn from that because punishment is coming.
    Illustrate: Much like this story from South Africa, naturist club owner Beau Brummell was irked by accusations from morals watchdogs that a shriveling Transvaal drought was brought on the the "sin" of nude togetherness at his 1000-acre farm. So he asked his 370 visitors to get dressed. And, for the first time in two months, it poured rain. "It's enough to make me become a monk!" Brummell said. (Ingrid Norton in Rand Daily Mail, Johannesburg.)
    I am not saying that if someone repents of their false worship that something like this will happen so suddenly, but what I am saying is that God will remove any discipline he has placed on them.
    Apply: Money is not evil and sinful, it is the love of it. If we desire money more than people, or God, then our wealth, regardless how small, will cause grief and pain. We will become bitter and arrogant like Scrooge did. We will not help others or want anyone around because they may “take our stuff.”
    We can overcome this through sitting back and examining our lives and looking at what we put our everything into. If it is material items, we may be worshipping our wealth and material items. We can leave that behind when we repent of that, turn away, change our minds about what is most important in life, and start seeking God’s wisdom which He will give us freely.
    If we do not then…

    The Love of Money Gains Worthless Treasures (2-3)

    Explain: James is reminding them of a message that Jesus delivered just a few short years earlier here. He tells them their wealth may corrode and rust and become moth eaten. Jesus said these same things during the Sermon on the Mount. He told the crowd that earthly treasures can rust, rot, become moth eaten, and be stolen. They were to lay up treasures in heaven where that cannot happen.
    Any time we desire to have material wealth over heavenly wealth, we are looking to items that fade and disappear to give us something that only God can. They cannot do for us what only the Lord can. They will rot and fade and leave us chasing more and more. How much is enough money? According to a very wealthy man, Just a little bit more.
    That is what worthless treasure gain is. It draws us for more and more because it is always fading. It will go away. It will condemn us at our judgment. When we believers stand before Christ at the Judgment Seat of Christ we will see our material wealth and work go up in smoke because it was not for Him, but for us.
    Everything here will fade and disappear. It will rot and be gone regardless how good of care you take of it.
    Illustrate: I had a sweater one time that was the best sweater I had ever found. It was wool and warm, but it was thin and not bulky. I could put it under a light jacket on the coldest day and stay warm. It buttoned up almost like a shirt and was thin enough I could tuck it in like a shirt. I loved it and have never been able to find another.
    I had that sweater one winter because during the spring, the moths ate it up. I pulled it out in late spring because a cool day hit, and it was all but gone.
    That is what all wealth here is. Here one minute and gone the next.
    Apply: God has blessed us with some amazing gifts and material assets. Yet they are only that, gifts. They are not ours to keep forever because they are only here a second. We can avoid worship of that when we recognize that nothing is eternal in the material world. We cannot take it with us. We can only leave it here.
    When we recognize that, and I mean really recognize that, we can then start giving away wealth more freely. It is only money. It is only a shirt or two. it is only clothes in general. I can do without that shirt, saddle, pair of boots, or whatever it is because I see others in need.
    But we need to recognize that because if we do not…

    The Love of Money Makes Us Defraud (4)

    Explain: Here James gets personal. Many wealthy people withhold money from employees. They say things like, “this is breaking me to pay this amount”, I am paying you all I can” while they are going to restaurants that cost hundreds to eat at and going on exotic vacations. They will withhold promised bonuses or pay raises.
    They lied to get you there then they do not follow through because they are greedy. This is what James is driving at here. That and people like us who hold back from what we could give the Lord. We are not compelled to give a certain amount but we tend to take care of wants before we take care of the Lord’s work.
    James is pointing at crooked employers more than anything, but any form of Love of Money making us not give and pay things like we should fits under this accusation.
    Illustrate: Much like this little girl.
    “A mother wanted to teach her daughter a moral lesson. She gave the little girl a quarter and a dollar for church "Put whichever one you want in the collection plate and keep the other for yourself," she told the girl. When they were coming out of church, the mother asked her daughter which amount she had given. "Well," said the little girl, "I was going to give the dollar, but just before the collection the man in the pulpit said that we should all be cheerful givers. I knew I'd be a lot more cheerful if I gave the quarter, so I did." (Bits & Pieces, February 4, 1993, p. 23.)
    We have an option but we desire to have more money than we give to others in need. I am not pushing giving to the church so much as I am saying we need to be more open to helping others who may be struggling instead of not doing anything, especially for those who work for us.
    Apply: In the Old Testament law, an employer was to pay the worker the day they did the work so they could not defraud the employee. They were to do this because the worker may need the money then and it was harder for the employer to defraud them.
    We can learn a lot from that aspect of the law. When we receive our pay we can then take it and give what we must to whom we owe, but then we can then take what we have and give to the Lord or others in need. We can make a change from our worship of money and material items when we seek God’s wisdom in how we can better share what we have been blessed with. We can be like the little girl and think the dollar will make us happy ad more cheerful, or we can look at which one is better: money or the Lord. That is how we can avoid defrauding others and love the Lord more than money. Because if not then…

    The Love of Money Makes us Deprive Others (5)

    Explain: Next James lets loose with what follows well behind defrauding people, depriving them. You have live din luxury on earth, he says. You have lived in self-indulgence. You have lived high on the hog, while others have not. You have lived this way when you could have done more for the downtrodden. Like in chapter two when he said a brother is in need and all you say is “go be warmed and filled. But do nothing for them.” You have it all but you have done nothing for them.
    What good is that. If you are able to help, help, is what he was saying. Yet, these who love money more than anything are in luxury and getting fat. Now, in this time frame being fat was a sign of wealth and well-to-do people. It was because they had money to eat well and others to do their work. They kept everything to themselves when they could have given some to others.
    But these people like a calf or goat being kept in and fed up for the slaughter they think they have it going on not realizing they are destined for bad. Like the rich fool who had much saying he was going to lay it up for years to come. He was taken that night. He was like a calf to the slaughter and did not even know it.
    Illustrate: Think of it like The Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins.
    “In this series of novels and related movies, a near-starving population is kept in check by a ruthless government. Each year, they are made to face the horror of “The Reaping,” when young people from each district of the empire are dragged away from their homes and forced to fight to the death in the Hunger Games. The entire population of young people from the districts is put into a lottery, and names are chosen for representatives from each district, who will be transported to the capital to participate in the elaborate games, with great fanfare. But in James, those who hoard worldly wealth and show no generosity are like the affluent and frivolous people in the capital in The Hunger Games Trilogy. They are people who expend untold sums for oppression and for their own entertainment instead of using that money to alleviate the suffering of others.” (Samra, 74-75).
    Apply: The application for this one is a bit simpler than the others. We can stop depriving others by willingly giving more. This is not saying that we need to be like some who have given 90% of their income and kept only 10% for themselves. It is not saying that we must live so meager that we can barley scrape by. What it does say is that we can stop loving our money when we willingly give more to good ways.
    When we look at our closets and see clothes in it we have never worn, give some away. When we look in our pantry's and see them full, give some canned goods to a food bank. When we look in our bank account and see some extra and heard of a need somewhere, give the extra there. It is a change but it is a change we can make when we rest in the power and wisdom of the Lord and trust Him over our material items to get us through.
    If we do not make these changes in our lives then we may very well fall into the final aspect of what money does. Which is…

    The Love of Money Disregards Life (6)

    Explain: Just as James said earlier in the letter that the rich are the ones who drag you away to court (2:7). That is what this is about here. The rich had the power and influence to get Christians sentenced and killed. They would have them cast into the lions den. They would have them cast into jail and left to rot. They would destroy them so they dd not have to hear the accusations that James is saying here.
    The wealthy are still this way today. Wealthy people have power to make people disappear. They themselves may not kill the people but they have the ability to remove them. They do this all the time to people who were innocent then, and innocent now.
    Illustrate: A perfect illustration for this is those wealthy people who are pumping millions and millions of dollars into the abortion industry. Men like George Soros, Bill Gates, and many others are pouring money into the abortion industry.
    They are killing the most righteous and innocent people of all. They are using their wealth to kill and destroy and they are paying many to do it.
    They are not using their wealth to help anyone but those who are sacrificing their children on the alter of self-sufficiency.
    This is exactly the thing that James is railing against in this passage. The shedding of innocent blood is caused at the hand of the wealthy all the time. Money, sex, and power are the driving force of all sin and the root is pride and self-sufficiency.
    This is something we can avoid and change.
    Apply: We can take a stand with other believers and fight against the ills of society by going and taking Christ into the work place every day.
    We can change this when we demonstrate through our selfless acts of giving and charity to others. Standing with others. We can change this attitudes through carrying the power of the Spirit with us and working to show all people Christ because the only way there will be change is by conversion.
    Unless people believe in Christ, nothing will change. We can’t change people but the power of our Savior can.


    And it is that savior I ask all here today to place all their faith in.
    Faith placed anywhere else, and in anything else, is wasted faith. When we place our faith in anything else, we will begin to think it is the right way and it is in control.
    We will be like this man, “who hoarded money all his life and begged God to allow him to bring something with him? God says he can bring whatever he can fit into one suitcase. Thinking the best thing to take would be gold bricks, the man buys a dozen, loads them into the suitcase, and arrives in heaven. As he brings the gold bricks through the pearly gates, Peter asks him, “I was wondering, of all the things in the world you could bring in your suitcase, why would you bring pavement?” (Samra, 74).
    Or worse. We may off people because they are getting in our way. It may not be an actual “offing” but we will basically do it by ruining their life and career because they were in our way.
    Faith in the world gets worldly results which always come back to bite us in the rump. Faith in the Lord and heavenly treasures will always result in spiritual blessings in some form or another and guaranteed to result in heavenly rewards.
    And those rewards are the one’s that are worthy of our time and efforts. They will last while all these will rot and rot us with them.
      • James 5:1–6ESV

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