Misplaced Priorities (Part 1 – Introduction)

James 5:1-6: “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 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. 4 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. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.”

If you are visiting my blog for the first time, you are probably thinking, “Oh great, here is another pastor that talks about money all the time!” Well, I don’t talk about it all the time, but when I go through a book of the Bible, and it discusses it, I do as well. One of my jobs as a pastor is to provide the whole counsel of God. Jesus talked about money more than he did hell, it is that important.

Many folks see money as the key to happiness. “If only I had more money…” Some even dream of winning the lottery. But I’m here to tell you that more money does create more problems. 

My pastor in college shared this story at the new member’s class. He was discipling a young man in college who was making $500 a month. He was able to give $50 each month to the work of the church. When he graduated, he got a job making $5,000 a month but continued to give only $50. When the pastor talked with him, the young man said he couldn’t afford to give more. He had adjusted his lifestyle to fit his new income but failed to budget for an increase in giving. So, the pastor prayed and asked God to help the young man adjust his budget or drop his income, so his offering was closer to the 10% tithe! The young man was shocked!

While this may be a legalistic approach to giving, and I teach the practice of giving as you can, I believe you should prayerfully consider starting at 10% and increasing your percentage as the Lord blesses.

“Never possess anything. Have it, and use it, but never lay claim to it as yours.” AW Tozer.

Don’t assume this passage doesn’t apply to you because it refers to rich people. By all accounts of history, we are rich. We must learn how to be good stewards of the resources God provides. When we get in line with God’s will for money, we realize just how truly blessed we are.

Throughout this blog series, we are going to see that James (and the entire Bible) do not condemn the possession of money, but rather God looks at our attitude and heart and actions toward what He has given us.

After all, there are some very godly people in Scripture who were wealthy: Abraham, Job, Barnabas, Joseph of Arimathea, and many more.

James has talked about the wealthy before (1:10; 2:1-7). If the central theme of James is to grow up, then the idea of wealth and material possessions can say a lot about our maturity. When he starts verse 1 with “now listen,” he is trying to get our attention. James is the half-brother of our Lord, so they grew up together in the same socio-economic class. 

It is not surprising that the Bible speaks a lot about money and our stewardship of it. 1/3 of Jesus’ parables had to do with wealth and possessions. You have to wonder how many “money talks” James had heard Jesus have.

In this passage, we see how misplaced priorities are a sign of immaturity. We will examine three misplaced priorities: wealth, fraud, and comfort.

Here are some questions to consider:

-If I were to look at your calendar and your checkbook, what would they say about your priorities?

-Are you faithfully giving to your local church?

-If you have more money at the end of the month, do you look to give it away or spend it on yourself?

Photo by Christine Roy on Unsplash

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