A sermon based on James 5:1-8 and developed by Terry W. Dorsett.
Verse 1 - Come now, you rich people! Weep and wail over the miseries that are coming on you.
• In order to understand this entire passage of scripture we must remember that throughout the book of James the word “rich” refers to people who are filled with pride and are determined to do their own thing instead of following Christ.
• Likewise, being “poor” refers to people who have humbled themselves before God and are doing their best to follow Him.
• James seeks to get the attention of the “rich” people by saying “Come now.”
• “Come now” was an appeal for them to admit the obvious, which was that though they may think they are on top of the world right now, eventually they would have to answer for their pride and their refusal to follow Christ.
• James begs the “rich” to realize their coming misery and “weep and wail.”
• In ancient times people often expressed great emotion through weeping and wailing at funerals or when some tragedy happened.
• We North Americans tend to be a bit more reserved in our emotional expression, but we have our own ways of grieving over tragedy.
• What makes this particular situation so sad is that the coming tragedy could be avoided if those who considered themselves “rich” would simply turn from their sin and begin to follow God.
• Though we will never have a completely pain-free life, when we follow Christ as closely as possible, there is much less misery.
Verse 2 - Your wealth is ruined: your clothes are moth-eaten.
• James changes his tense from future to present.
• Though the “rich” people have not yet felt the full consequences of ignoring God, the certainty of that future is so sure that James uses the present tense to indicate that their “wealth” is already ruined.
• Wealth does not refer just to finances, but to the whole attitude that people do not need God to solve their problems.
• That type of attitude will always lead to ruin.
Verse 3 - your silver and gold are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You stored up treasure in the last days!
• It is important to note that silver and gold do not actually corrode like other metals.
• But James is speaking figuratively here.
• James is pointing out that even the things that we think are so valuable and important mean very little in the eternal scope of the universe.
• When we focus on accumulating earthly valuables, the very things we value have a way of becoming tarnished in our mind.
• Those very things can eat away at us until they destroy the joy of our lives.
• For some people, they realize only when it is too late that they stored up the wrong treasures.
• The way to change where we are storing up treasure is to change our focus in life.
• We must get our eyes off ourselves and on to Christ.
Verse 6 - You have condemned—you have murdered—the righteous man; he does not resist you.
• Theologians have interpreted this verse two different ways throughout history.
• One view is that the righteous man refers generally to all people living God-focused lives.
• But a 6th century theologian named Oecumenius pointed out that there is really only one true righteous man, so this verse must be referring specifically to Christ.
• Theologians have argued for 1400 years about which view is correct.
• The application is the same either way.
• Those who live for self instead of for the Lord have trampled on Christ’s sacrifice.
• Since we have all done this from time to time, we are all guilty of condemning Christ to die.
• That makes us all guilty of murdering the only righteous man who ever lived.
• Though Christ clearly had the power to resist, He did not. He let us treat Him with contempt.
• Why would Christ do this?
• This is the very reason Christ came into the world, to pay for our sins through the sacrifice of Himself.
• Remember what Christ said on the cross: Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.
• In the past we may have sinned in ignorance, not realizing what it cost Christ to overcome our sin.
• Be thankful for God’s past mercy and grace!
• But now we know the truth, and knowing the truth makes us responsible for acting on that truth.
• Remember James 4:17 - The person who knows to do good, but does not do it, has sinned.
• Let’s not add to our sin by continuing to trample on Christ by focusing on ourselves.
Verse 7 - Therefore, brothers, be patient until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.
• We must focus on following Christ faithfully, knowing that when we meet Him, He will set all things right.
• Though it may seem like some people are winning on this side of eternity, it is on the other side that we will find out who the real winners are.
• Farmers understand how they have to plow the ground, plant the seed, remove the weeds and wait for rain until the harvest finally comes.
• We must learn to wait on the Lord too.
• God’s timetable is not our timetable, but God’s timetable is always right.
Verse 8 - You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord's coming is near.
• Patience is one of the hardest things to learn in life.
• We must learn to wait on the Lord in patience.
• While waiting, we must strengthen our hearts through prayer, Bible study, fellowship with the saints and service to others.
• The Lord’s coming is near. He comes spiritually to show us when the time is right to fulfill the dreams He has put in our hearts.
• One day He will come physically to gather His saints to be with Him in heaven forever.
• We must be faithful as we wait on the Lord to come both spiritually and physically.
• People who are “rich” in arrogance and self-focus will eventually find out how empty their lives have been.
• Since we have all had that attitude from time to time, we are all guilty of the death of Christ.
• Now that God has revealed the truth to us, we should live Christ-focused lives faithfully waiting for the Lord’s will to be worked out both in our current lives and in eternity.