(The following is a summary of the message that was preached by Michael Larsen on November 18, 2018.)
James in this passage talks about how to face the future. He says there are three common mistakes that we should be aware of. In James 4:13 He illustrates the first mistake with a typical conversation between a couple of businessmen. Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”
James says the first common mistake we make is . . .
1. PLANNING WITHOUT GOD
What's the solution? Include God in your goal setting. James 4:15. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.”
There are three ways we should respond to God's will:
1) I can make reference to it.
2) I can show deference to it.
3) I can show preference for it.
The second mistake is . . .
2. PRESUMING (assuming you know) ABOUT TOMORROW
You don’t know how much time you’ve got left. James 4:14 & 16. “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. … As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.”
There are a couple reasons we shouldn't presume about the future and assume that we've got tomorrow.
1) Life is unpredictable.
2) Life is brief.
What's the solution? Plan for the future, but take advantage of the present. Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
A third common mistake is . . .
3. PUTTING OFF DOING GOOD
James 4:17 “Anyone then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it sins.”
What's the solution? The solution is “Do it now.” Proverbs 3:27-28 “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow’— when you now have it with you.” Don't procrastinate. If you can do it now, do it now. There are three things you can do with your life: spend it, waste it, invest it.
What have you been knowing that you ought to do and you know is the right thing to do, but you've just been putting it off? James says, “Do it now.” Don't wait.
There’s a parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:16-21 that illustrates what James is teaching in this passage of Scripture. “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”
In New Testament times, the rich tended to manipulate and oppress the poor people. James lashes out at non-Christian use of money by the wealthy. He condemns them with four specific abuses they were guilty of. Although we may not commit these sins to the same degree, this passage is a healthy warning to us to make sure that no matter how much money we have, we use it wisely.
I. THE WRONG USES OF WEALTH
A. The first key issue that James talks about is the ACCUMULATION OF WEALTH. In v.3 he says, “don't hoard it.”
In the New Testament times you can hoard wealth three ways: 1) stockpile food, 2) collect clothes, 3) gather precious metals and jewels. James speaks about these three types of wealth in v. 2-3: “Your wealth has rotted, moths have eaten your clothes, and your gold and silver are corroded.” The point he's making here that whatever you simply accumulate, deteriorates. God doesn't want us to get wealth just for the sake of getting wealth. He wants us to use it.
B. There's a second issue he talks about. This is the issue of the APPROPRIATION OF WEALTH. God is not only concerned with what we've got, but also how we got it. “Don steal it.”
This is what James is criticizing in v.4: “The wages you have failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you.” James is saying that in the accumulation of wealth, don't hoard it. In the appropriation of wealth, don't steal it. Don't be dishonest.
C. The third issue that James talks about is the ALLOCATION OF MONEY -- how we spend it. The way we spend our money is very important. v. 5 “You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence.”
D. The fourth key issue that James deals with is the APPLICATION OF WEALTH. He's talking about how we use its influence. He says, don't abuse it. v. 6 “You have condemned and ruined innocent men, and they are powerless to stop you.” Verse 1 warns of what happens to those who misuse wealth: “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.”
II. THE RIGHT USES OF WEALTH.
A. RIGHT ACCUMULATION. Proverbs 21:20 “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.” Proverbs 30:24 “Consider the ant how it stores up in the winter.” God says the wise person saves and invests his money.
In order to develop the habit of saving you have to do two things:
1. You need to learn to live on less than you make. As a general rule, save 10%, tithe 10%, live on 80%.
2. Learn contentment with what you have.
There are three reasons for saving:
1. It prevents us from impulse buying.
2. It allows us to be able to help other people when they have a need.
3. It gets your money working for you rather than you working for your money.
That's the right accumulation of money according to scripture.
B. RIGHT APPROPRIATION. What matters to God is not so much how much money you make, but how you make it. Scripture says you can make as much money as you can in your lifetime as long as you meet these four qualifications.
1. As long as it doesn't hurt your own health.
2. As long as it doesn't hurt my family.
3. As long as it doesn't hurt other people.
4. As long as I keep my spiritual life on the same level.
C. RIGHT ALLOCATION. Have a budget.
D. THE RIGHT APPLICATION. We give money generously. Proverbs 11:24-25 says “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”