Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Faith that Works is Humble, Wise, and NOT Exploitive (James 4.13-5.6) with audio

Scripture: James 4.13-5.6
Translation: 13Come on, now, those of you who say “Today or tomorrow we’ll go into such and such a city and we’ll work there for a year and make business deals and profit,” 14you who don’t know what [will come] of tomorrow, what kind of thing your life is, because you’re a vapor, the one that appears for a little while, then also disappears. 15Instead of what you said, [say] “If the Lord would want, we’ll both live and do this or that.” 16But now you’re bragging with your arrogant-boasts! All of that kind of bragging is evil! 17So, for the person who knows to do what’s good and doesn’t do [it], it is sin for him!
5.1Come on now, you rich people, sob, crying out because of your miseries that are coming upon [you]! 2Your riches are in a state of decaying and your clothes are in a state of becoming eaten-by-moths! 3Your gold and silver has become tarnished and their corrosion will be a testimony against you! And it will eat your fleshes like fire! You store up in the last days! 4Look, the paycheck of the workers who mow your fields, the person being robbed [or perhaps ‘waiting to get paid’] by you cries out, and the shouts of those who harvest are in a state of speaking into the ears of the Lord of Armies! 5You lived for pleasure on the earth and you lived it up, you fed your hearts on a day of slaughter, 6you found guilty, you murdered the righteous person, he didn’t position himself against you!

The Point I’m Stressing: We need to acknowledge that God controls our destinies, not us, and that the same temptations that pull on rich people to exploit others to satisfy our own desires and give ourselves the illusion of control are found in our own hearts. Also, God knows and cares when you have been exploited by others. He will give you justice if you will ask Him for it. It is a good prayer to pray when we have experience injustice to ask God to help us to forgive and heal from the injustice, but also to give us justice and pay our abusers back for their injustice against us.

1.      Structure
a.       A Call on the Business Class to Humility
                                                              i.      Identification and Characterization of the addressees: people who act like they know the future
                                                            ii.      Identification and Characterization of the Addressees: people who don’t know the future or the fragility of their life
1.      Stated bluntly in two implied questions
2.      Explained with the metaphor of a vapor or mist that appears and disappears
                                                          iii.      Application of the Nature of Human Life: Humility and Wisdom: If the Lord wants it to happen, it will happen
                                                          iv.      Declaration of the Addressees current state: Arrogant and Sinful
1.      Identification of their actions: arrogant boasting
2.      Identification of arrogant boasting as sin
                                                            v.      Conclusion: Blowing of what was said is sin
b.      A Call on the Rich Class to Repentance
                                                              i.      A call to rich people to cry about what is happening: Their Stuff is Corroding
1.      Call to cry (perhaps sarcastic or unsympathetic)
2.      Declaration of the stat of their wealth
a.       Summary: Their wealth is decaying
b.      Their clothes are moth-eaten
c.       Their gold and silver is tarnished
3.      Explanation of the corrosion future/current purpose
a.       The Corrosion will be legal testimony against them
b.      The corrosion will eat their bodies like fire
                                                            ii.      Indictment against Rich People for Hoarding Wealth
1.      The rich are hoarding wealth at the when Jesus is soon to return
2.      They are getting their wealth by financial abuse
a.       The unpaid field workers are crying out to God against the rich
b.      The unpaid harvest workers are shouting to God of Armies for help
3.      They are using their wealth in self-indulgent, unwise ways
a.       They are living a grotesquely selfish and lavish and wildly-indulgent lifestyle
b.      they are living it up, glutting themselves at an unwise time: day of slaughter
4.      They are using their riches or rich status to legally abuse and kill people, who have not done anything to instigate it
2.      Themes
a.       Humble, Wise Faith showed in actions
                                                              i.      This theme is again the backdrop of the whole passage
                                                            ii.      However, this theme also appears in 4.17, where James now explains that it is not just what you do that counts, but what you don’t do too
                                                          iii.      The point is it is not just sin to do bad things, it is sin to not do the good things you know you should do—doing nothing still counts as doing something, but now that something is not good
                                                          iv.      The backdrop is especially prevalent also in 5.1-6, where James gives a warning of coming judgment to rich people who have been doing evil, their actions are not really showing that they have genuine faith, because they are violating some fundament Christian outlooks and lifestyles: they don’t act like Jesus will return soon, they steal from people, they hoard wealth, they are in the party scene, they violate justice and perhaps even kill people for profit
b.      Arrogance
                                                              i.      This is the main issue in both sections, it is perhaps clearer in the first where the arrogance is displayed in how the business people are thinking about their lives, like they are in control of the future, but really God is, so that is some serious pride. They forget that really they are dependent on God to be successful, not their own plans, which is not to say that they should be making plans, they should, but the attitude is one of arrogance and boasting, their actions serve to aggrandize their own egos and actions, and not the grace of God
                                                            ii.      In the second section the arrogance is not stated explicitly, buy implicitly, because there the rich people are acting as if Jesus is not coming back soon and as if there is no one who will ever hold them accountable for their actions, they are so self-obsessed that they think it is ok for them to abuse people to get they want, which assumes in their thinking that they are more important or better in some way, which is why they can and do abuse people, also their use of wealth indicates that they do not see wealth as a resource to be used to bless others but solely used for their own selfish indulgences
c.       Fragility of life
                                                              i.      The fragility of life, could be filed under decay or the transience of material things, but it is a strong theme in the first section, it is this understanding that life is fragile and its destiny does not lie in our total control
                                                            ii.      The fragility of life is also found in the second section, where the rich have also forgotten that their lives are fragile, or perhaps deeply know they are and seek to protect themselves from that fragility with wealth, they also kill and abuse, which indicates that the human life is fragile even to the actions of other humans. The prayers of the abused assume an understanding that they are fragile and dependant on God for their lives and for justice
d.      Humility
                                                              i.      The nature of the human life should bring us to humility before God, where we understand our complete and total dependence on him
                                                            ii.      However, humility should also bring us to care for others, because with humility in our hearts we can see that all people are important, not just ourselves. This is the failure especially of the rich. Humility means that we don’t see people as tools for our own exploitation, success, or profit
e.       Wisdom
                                                              i.      Wisdom appears in the call on the business class to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and the fragility of life and the lack of control we have over the future, as well as realizing that the soon coming of Christ has implications for how we live. Wisdom sees the implications of our actions and what needs to happen to achieve certain ends, but it also sees that the things that we see protection in from destruction are themselves in the process of destruction, wisdom sees that the only place for a human to hide for safety from death, destruction, corrosion, and sin is in God
                                                            ii.      Wisdom also calls us to change our lifestyles to conform them to God’s desired lifestyle
f.       Wealth
                                                              i.      Wealth is the aim of both sections, in the first section the problem is simply the presumption that we can control whether we attain it or not
                                                            ii.      The second sections problem is the misuse of wealth and a misunderstanding about the nature of wealth, it is the attempt to control whether one gets rich or not taken to the extreme
                                                          iii.      Wealth is transient, it is passing away, just like human life, in all its forms it is fragile and subject to corruption
g.      Decay/Transience of the Present World
                                                              i.      All things decay: human life and human stuff. The first section is all about how human life passes away, it decays into nothing,
                                                            ii.      The second section is all about how all the things that humans can own or possess or even use or cling to will pass away, even the use of the justice system in the present world by the rich will pass away at the return of Christ, that is, it will no longer be possible to have false justice or injustice, which is good news for the oppressed and bad news for the rich, who are using justice for injustice. The killing of the unantagonistic shows that human life is fragile and that the future is not sure for anyone
h.      Abuse
                                                              i.      The rich people found in the second section are abusers of people, they exploit people for their own gain, they steal land from people for their gain, they rob people of justice for their own gain, and they even take away people’s lives. They also abuse time and wealth by hoarding and blowing it all on their own addictions and pleasures
i.        Judgment/justice
                                                              i.      Judgment is coming
                                                            ii.      That is the implication of calling a failure to act sin (sin implies coming judgment)
                                                          iii.      More clearly, in the second section, justice is sought by the abused from God,
                                                          iv.      However, the theme of justice and judgment is also implied by the abuse of justice by the rich, they use judgment and justice systems to exploit and kill people legally
                                                            v.       the judgment and justice that will come with the Return of Christ is revealed by the phrase “in the last days” of 5.3, and in the phrase “will be a testimony against you” and “eat your fleshes/bodies like fire” and the threat of “Lord of Armies” and the phrase “on a day of slaughter” The point is Jesus is coming back to judge and bring punishment
j.        The Soon Return of Christ
                                                              i.      The phrase “last days” implies that the Jesus is coming soon, so the time we are living in are the last days of the earth.
                                                            ii.      All the threats of judgment against the rich are also assumed implicitly to be coming with the return of the Messiah, which is strengthen by the greek translation “Lord of Armies” for the Hebrew “Yahweh of Armies” in the OT, a phrase that is associated with the Yahweh’s Judgment Day, when He comes to settle the score for his people, for all those who seek Him for justice and trust in Him, but also for those who are merely human. Yahweh promises to settle the score between even pagan nations who don’t even worship Him who have abused or been abused by other nations.
                                                          iii.      The “day of slaughter” is also a clear reference to the Day when Yahweh comes to judge people with a sword, i.e. kill the bad people and give out true justice
k.      Sovereignty of God
                                                              i.      The Whole first section is dealing with the issue of people who are acting as if it is not God Who is truly in control of all that happens
                                                            ii.      The second section deals with people who think that God does not really have the power to either provide what is needed or to judge the wicked, with people who are trying by whatever means necessary to be in control of their own lives, while truly only God has that kind of control
l.        Prayer
                                                              i.      The theme of prayer has percolated in the book of James a few times, in the opening where we are instructed to ask God for wisdom without doubting He will give it, in ch.3 where blessings are said to come from our tongue to God, and in 4.2-3 where James indicts us for not asking from God and asking from Him for evil and selfish reasons
                                                            ii.      Here in 5.4 prayer is shown to be legitimate for asking God for Justice, it is surely in our self interest to have justice, but that desire is good, God doesn’t answer prayers that we pray so that we can have stuff to blow and enjoy an ungodly lifestyle, but He does answer self focused prayers that come out of our needs and pains
                                                          iii.      God will answer prayers for justice, that is what all of 5.4-6 is predicated upon. James writes with the assumption that God will hear the prayers of the people being abused and exploited by the rich, which serves to threaten the rich with punishment if they don’t repent, but also serves to encourage those who are abused and exploited that God will soon give them justice and relief from oppression
3.      Doctrines
a.       Real Faith Proves Itself By What We Do
b.      Wisdom is a key part of the Christian Life
c.       Humility is a Key part of the Christian Life
d.      Jesus is Coming Back Soon
e.       Judgment is Coming for Unrepentant Sinners
f.       Earthly Things are Temporary
g.      Being Rich is Not Wrong, but Getting and Using Riches in an Ungodly Way Is
h.      God is Absolutely Sovereign

1.      The temptation to think we are in control of our own lives is an illusion, actually God is in control, so we need to have a humble attitude about our plans and entrust God make what He wants to have happen happen regardless of our plans
2.      We need to recognize that our own hearts want us to use temporary stuff to protect us from being out of control, but the truth is those things are just as temporary as we are, so they cannot help us stay in control, that is God’s prerogative.
3.      Pray and ask God for forgiveness for the times that you have used people as tools to satisfy your own wants and protect your sense of control

4.      Pray and ask God to avenge you, to give you justice for the times that people have abused you, used you, or treated you in a way that didn’t give you the respect and honor you were given by God. People may have verbally abused you, physically abused you, sexually abused, manipulated you, made fun of you, lied about you, lied to you, or other injustices and God wants to give you justice for all those things, so just ask Him for justice and He will give it. But don’t take justice into your own hands and try to make that person/people pay for what they did, or refuse to forgive them, instead forgive them and trust God to settle the score.

No comments:

Post a Comment