13th September 2017

James: Week 12 (Wednesday, September 13 2017)

(from www.insightforliving.org.uk)


James 5: 1-6



With a righteous fire in his bones, James warned followers of Jesus to avoid playing God by presuming on the future. Let’s face it, playing God is not only an ancient problem. We also fall all too easily into the rhythm of selfsufficiency in our day-to-day decision making, with only the ceremonial hat-tip to God. And the most common way we play God? With our resources, our money, our work — and our hallowed calendars and long-term plans! James shot straight in his warnings to the wealthy. Get ready: James’ advice isn’t just for people who possess great riches — it’s just as applicable to the pauper in Christ as to the prince.


Getting Started: Playing God with Wealth

Paying particular attention

to James 5:1– 6, make some initial observations about what you see. For instance, are there any repeated words? Did James use any connecting words that

offer clues into what he was emphasizing? Make notes on a separate sheet of paper about what you discover.


Your Turn in the Scriptures

Using James 5:1–6, apply the four primary techniques — observation, interpretation, correlation, and application —in the searching the Scriptures process. Take some time first, however, to read any material you find in your commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and online tools that covers this section of James 5. As you go, feel free to jot notes in the margins of your Bible or on a separate sheet of paper. Then proceed to make your discoveries.

Observation: What do you see?

Use the space below to record your findings as you look closely at the text. Remember: Look for repeated words, commands, questions, emphatic statements, and images or figures of speech. Make your notes as specific as possible at this stage.

James 5:1– 3

James 5:4 –6

Interpretation: What does it mean?

Who exactly was James talking to when he said, “you rich”? James referenced the rich earlier in his letter (James 1:10 –11; 2:6 –7), but in chapter 5, he nailed rich unbelievers to the wall with conviction. James didn’t have a vendetta against materially rich people; his warnings were specifically for those who possess material wealth but exist in spiritual poverty. James mentioned “the last days” in James 5:3 and then discussed how believers should live “until the coming of the Lord” in 5:7. The warning is clear: trusting in the strength of riches instead of trusting in

Christ will end in disaster.

Psalm 62:10 says,

Do not trust in oppression And do not vainly hope in robbery;

If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.

James had in view those who abuse their work, their money, or their influence to enrich themselves at the expense of others. Also, James was warning those who commit idolatry by placing their faith in stuff rather than in God. Anyone from any tax bracket can be guilty of trusting in treasure rather than God.

James 5:1– 3

What ultimately happens to the possessions of the rich? How did James react to those who “store up [their] treasure”?

James 5:4 –6

In these verses, how do valuing and hoarding possessions affect the way the materially rich /spiritually poor treat their workers? How do the materially rich /spiritually poor “play God” in relation to their workers?

Correlation: How does it compare?

Interact with the following passages. Write a note or two describing how each passage adds context, confirms, or illuminates James 5:1– 6.

Psalm 119:11

Proverbs 21:6

Isaiah 5:7– 9

Jeremiah 22:13 –17

Matthew 6:19 –24

Matthew 12:33 –37

Mark 10:21– 27

Luke 3:10 –14

Luke 21:1– 4

1 Timothy 6:6 –10, 17–19

Application: What difference does it make?


table with 5 columns and 6 rows



Four Kinds of Wealth and Poverty


Physical Condition

Spiritual Condition



Biblical Example  



Having few of the world’s goods and not living in God’s love, the doubly poor are in a most miserable condition.

Provide essential physical needs to express God’s love; for unbelievers, point them to salvation in Christ; for believers, exhort them to trust in Christ to provide both physically and spiritually.

Those who are both physically and spiritually afflicted (Isaiah 61:1)  



Having been blessed in both material wealth and heavenly riches, the doubly rich use their prosperity to help others.

Provide opportunities for giving and serving others with time and resources.

Job before and after his trials ( Job 1:1– 3; 42:10); Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57)  



Having few of the world’s goods, the externally poor are often in need of food, clothing, and shelter; but they have a strong faith and often give what little they have. Provide essential physical needs and give opportunities to minister to the spiritual needs of others.

The poor widow (Mark 12:42 – 44); the poor of this world who are rich in faith ( James 2:5); the church in Smyrna (Revelation 2:9)  



Having an abundance of the world’s goods, the spiritually poor forget that their blessings come from God in order to bless others. Provide correction; for unbelievers, exhort them to trust in Christ instead of riches; for believers, encourage them to submit their wealth to the lordship of Christ.

Unbeliever: the rich young ruler (Mark 10:21) Believers: the church of Laodicaea (Revelation 3:17)

table end


Chart taken from Insights on James, 1 & 2 Peter, copyright © 2014 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved

worldwide. Used by permission.

How do we stop playing God with our stuff and, instead, allow Him to be the steward of our wealth and

the focus of our hearts? There are a few gut-checks we can remember in this all-important discipline of

examining our hearts:

God’s concern is not with actual wealth but our attitude toward wealth.

We should never be conceited. We ought never find security in our dollars.

Instead, we can humbly fix our hope on God and be rich in good works.

In the spaces below, write out two additional personalized applications (responses) to what you have studied

in James 5:1– 6.







Lord, everything I have is Yours. My life. My money. My employees and employers. My family and friends. My children and grandchildren. You own everything, Lord. Keep my heart humble and my hands open to receive and to give according to Your will. I am blessed with every spiritual blessing, and in Christ, I have all I will ever need. Thank You for Your generosity and love toward me. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.

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