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The Unscrupulous Rich (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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May 23, 2024 6:00 am

The Unscrupulous Rich (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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May 23, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the letter of James 1:2-5


There is evil in loving money. And of course, many really feel that if they could just have money, they'll be safe. They'll have peace. Now, certainly without money, peace is diminished.

Safety also starts to go away, but there must be a balance. And so, Paul warns Timothy to warn the believers this. He says, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.

There's so much evil in the world because of this love of power. This is Cross-Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Rick is currently teaching through the book of James.

Please stay with us after today's message. To hear more information about Cross-Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching, open your Bibles to James chapter 5 and let's join Pastor Rick as he begins his message called The Unscrupulous Rich. James is where we are, chapter 5. And if you have your Bibles, please open to James chapter 5.

We'll take the first six verses. Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out. The cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabioth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury.

You have fattened your hearts as in the day of slaughter. That's as far as we'll take it. Oh, no, we'll take one more verse. Pardon me. You have condemned, you have condemned, you have murdered the just.

He does not resist you. That was tough reading. Well, since we don't have any rich folks here that I know about, we'll skip this section. James, leave it to James. Unscrupulous rich folks is who he is addressing here. And James, being the man of action that we know him to be, is set to tackle any problem in the church that comes to his attention.

Of course, unless the Lord stops him. These six verses tell us that he knew of unscrupulous, wealthy people attending the various churches in the Jewish communities throughout the Roman Empire. So he rebukes them publicly because when these letters were written, they were read publicly in the services.

And his rebuke is to get them to repent and change their ways or warning them about the wrath of God to come, to go out of the church and don't come back until they are ready to repent. Should it be any other way? Wealth is power. It's power on multiple levels because of its abundance in valued resources to be able to do things that others cannot do. The possessions of the rich, they are weapons.

Whether they are weapons for the kingdom of God or the kingdom of hell is up to the individual who wields the weapon. Throughout history, even to this day, rich people are, of course, targeted by thieves, as are even poorer people. They are the victims of a lot of envy. As a matter of fact, many who feel the rich, the causes of their poverty, and in some cases, they may be right. Throughout history, the rich, as a class of people, have been known to be cruel and wicked and cause immeasurable suffering and misery in the lives of countless multitudes. This is even in the case of, for example, in the Soviet Union.

Those comrades up at the top, they were rolling in the luxury of whatever Russia had to offer in the Soviet Union, as I mentioned, while so many others starved and struggled just to stay warm and just to eat. This is serious business. Satan knows this, and so does God. God has his servant James address these matters before us so that we can know them and know what our response ought to be when faced with such things as this. As a class, they do what they can do to gain wealth, to maintain wealth, and to gain more wealth to maintain at the cost of anybody else.

This is where the iniquity begins to creep in. In Genesis 6, there were those mighty men, the Gebors of Genesis 6, men of renown. They had power, and they were out of control. The French Revolution, the beheading of Marie Antoinette, for example, because of the rich class that had so taken advantage of everyone else. The Russian Revolution was also excited by the abuse of wealth. The Industrial Age brought, you know, the development, the invention and then development of the steam engine opened up. Humanity, human history changed, and it is still changing because of that single steam engine development to this very day. And it brought about an Industrial Age that caused there to be tycoons and corporations became, or what was once family business, became now corporations to the point where they cared nothing for the people, only for the profit. And the misery and pain and suffering of coal miners, for example, and so many others were victimized by these super wealthy people and their tycoons, brought about frustration and fury from the pen of people like Joseph Engle and Karl Marx. And the next thing you know, you had communism, the working class against the rich class. So all I'm saying, all of this is to say that it's not something that is foreign to the human experience.

We may not suffer it right now in this age as much as others have, but still we have to consider the Word of God that is before us because the more familiar we are with what God has said in His Word, the better chance we have of being used by God and sharing His Word with those who are lost. I like, and save, I like what the character Modka in Fiddler on the Roof had to say. If the rich could hire others to die for them, we, the poor, would all make a nice living.

That's kind of funny. So now we look at verse 1 with that little background concerning wealth. Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you. Now these folks, these are people who are abundantly rich as mentioned, but they're not Christians. These are non-Christians that He is addressing at this point. In chapter 1, He addresses Christians who are rich. See, He doesn't refer to this group as brethren, but in chapter 1 He says, Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation. And so there in James chapter 1, He addresses Christians who are wealthy, as opposed to here where He does not again refer to them as brothers. In James chapter 2, He addresses visitors to the church who are rich.

He doesn't specify whether they are saved or not, but He says in James 2 verse 2, For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings and fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and then He goes on to make His point that we are not to show partiality, we're not to show favoritism to the one with the money and ignore the one without the money. And then also in chapter 2, He addresses the wealthy that are unbelievers. In verse 6 of James 2, He says, Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Four times in this little letter of five chapters as we know it, does James address rich people?

It was an issue in his day. And it can be an issue in our day, in our hearts, whether we have the wealth or not, we can covet it, we can want it too much. But again here in our first verse of chapter 5, He is addressing those who are wealthy and not saved. And so He says, Weep and howl. He calls them to face the judgment that is before them, not a seeker-friendly message, not a message that the Holy Spirit does not say to James, tone it down a little bit.

He just lets him go, tell it like it is. It's an ominous judgment for the unscrupulous ways, the sinful ways of these who are greedy and selfish and self-indulgent to a fault. Now it does not mean that the poor are righteous simply because they are poor and the rich are wicked simply because they are rich. That of course is not the case. It doesn't mean that the affluent, those who have a lot of money, have gotten their money through evil methods. It does not mean that at all.

Again, fiddler on the roof, Reb Tevye, the lead character in the story. He says, There's no shame in being poor, but it is no great honor either. Keeping the perspective on the two classes and our role as we are faced with any class of people, any type of people. For the ones that James is addressing, it is money. But for someone else, it can be some other sin that has enslaved them, that dictates to them their behavior in life. It could be sex. It could be family.

It could be Korea. There's a great number of things it could be. But here, James, again, weep and howl, he says. He's quoting, he's getting this from Isaiah, and that's significant to us because we're reminded that this man, James, was a man of the word. And repeatedly, as we've been going through his letter, we find out how much he's connected to the Old Testament, what we know as the Old Testament. Isaiah 13, 6, Isaiah says, Well, for the day of Yahweh is at hand.

It will come as destruction from the Almighty. Again, the fourth time, such a short letter dealing with the rich. The fourth chapter, where he mentions repentance towards those who have a contrite and humble heart. Here, he does not make such an offer. Here, he just lays it out, You are guilty, allowing the conviction to do its work if they would have it, and we do this to this day.

Do you know that people who are not friends with Christ can walk into a Bible teaching church and be totally unfamiliar with most of what is being taught, but catch just enough to know they are guilty before a holy God and that repentance is offered to them if they will come and receive it on God's terms, and they do come, they do repent. So he says, Your miseries weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you. Amos the prophet, just as James here with this extraordinarily stern warning, just as James does it, Amos had done it before him to the upper class in the northern kingdom of Israel. He says, Hear this word, you cows of Bashan.

He's talking to the women, and he's talking about, again, extraordinarily stern. Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, Bring wine, let us drink. Then he goes on to say, Yahweh God has shown by His holiness, behold, the day shall come upon you when He will take you away with fishhooks and your posterity with fishhooks. You will go out through broken walls, each one straight ahead of her, and you will be cast into Harman, says Yahweh. He's saying, Armies will come. They will breach the wall. They will bust through the fortifications, and they will capture you, and they will enslave you, and your wealth will be of no benefit.

And so here James is saying, you know, spiritually, that's what's going to happen to you. Now again, let's not limit this to the wealthy only. The guilty, this is to the guilty before God who are not right with God, whether they're rich or poor. God is not limited to the wealthy, though He has them in mind.

The Holy Spirit always expands it so that He can reach the loss because conviction is what does that. To women living in the day of Isaiah, they living in the lap of luxury, flaunting their status symbols as they walked about. Isaiah addressed them. He says, Moreover, Yahweh says, because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, making a jingling with their feet. This mincing was not preparing dinner as they were going.

They weren't mincing vegetables or meat. They were shuffling along, again flaunting their wealth before those who were not as wealthy. And so James has precedence here in the Scriptures, something God has already dealt with, and in case his Jewish countrymen had lost sight of this, he brings it up before them. In verse 2, he says, Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten. Material possessions without Christ. They are corrupted. They are ruined by the fact that He's not part of them.

They will only take you so far. It is not evil to be rich, but there is evil in loving money. And of course, many really feel that if they could just have money, they'll be safe. They'll have peace. Now, certainly without money, peace is diminished.

Safety also starts to go away, but there must be a balance. And so Paul warns Timothy to warn the believers this. He says the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. There's so much evil in the world because of this love of power, because if you have money, you can get other things too. It may not buy you love, but it can buy you lust. And that, that is something to have, lust for whatever it is you crave. And so, again, he says to Timothy, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness. So he says it's an issue with Christians. Some Christians, they pray to God for a good job, and they get a super job, and then they leave the faith because they become absorbed by possessions. They get greedy. God gets in the way of their greed, so they walk away from God, he says, and pierce themselves through with many sorrows. He speaks as though he's witnessed this, because he has.

And so did James. Covetedness, wanting more than what you should want, I guess is a very quick definition for covetedness. The last of the Ten Commandments it is, but it is the most dangerous one to fall prey to. Covetedness will make a person break the other nine commandments, because you want something, you break it. You can become a murderer, an adulterer, you can become a blasphemer, an idolater, because you want something the wrong way, the wrong things even. It is a gateway sin to greater sins.

Don't trivialize it. Paul, after his conversion, he said, I really didn't have any problems as a Pharisee, except I had the problem of covetedness. And he knew that alone damned his soul. And so those who are not rich but love money are as guilty as those who are rich and love money. It's what's in the heart, not so much what's in the wallet. Money-love. Money-love ruins other love relationships. You can change that and you would still, I think, be very, very much correct in saying, false loves kill true love. Love is one of the most special things we have and it is one of the most difficult things to execute in Christ.

It is impossible to do it without Him. Self-enrichment engulfs the life. And so we're warned about these things. How do you feel when you see your child becoming a little bit too greedy? You say, well, how do I bring that down a little bit? And you find it's not easy. They don't usually just say, oh, OK, I got it. I'm being covetedness. You know what?

That's not good for me. They just say, I want more. Jesus said, you cannot serve God in money, Maimon. You cannot serve self-indulgence and Him too. Yet we try.

If we're not careful, we will try. Matthew 6 19, do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. Well, this is the foundation for all James is saying. We've been repeating this through the study of James that he was a man who was endeared to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.

We know that because of the multitude of references he makes to that sermon, and this is one of them in verse 2. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth eaten. And Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, do not lay up for yourself treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. I like sports coats a lot.

And I've got one nice wool one I bought many years ago, and I still have it. There's a little spot up on the lapel because of a moth. He didn't pay for it. Nobody invited him into my house. Anyway, there was a time when this was a real big problem in that part of the world and may still be. It is in some parts of the world.

We take, you know, we put moth balls or cedar chips or lavender or something to fight away those invasive little beasts. Acts chapter 20, Paul, I have coveted no one silver or gold or apparel. Paul stands before them and says, I'm not mixed up as a pastor.

I'm not into your money and your things. I'm into Christ. I've declared to you the gospel of Jesus Christ with tears, he said at one point. How does he maintain that level of passion knowing how he was treated by Christians and non-Christians alike by the power of the Holy Spirit? Did he have any mentors, any examples, anyone in his life that he could say, this is someone that I want to be like and then go out and do it?

Yes, of course he did. One of them was the great prophet Samuel. I think we miss how great this man Samuel is because we tend to turn our attention to David, another great man of God. But Samuel, when he was, when the people were saying, we want a king, we don't want a man of God over us. Well, if the king is a man of God, that's good as long as he's a king.

I'm just boiling it down. And so he stands before the people and he says, here I am. Witness against me before Yahweh and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken or whose donkey have I taken or whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I received any bribe with which to blind my eyes?

I will restore it to you. And they said, you have not cheated us or oppressed us, nor have you taken anything from any man's hand. What a witness.

So I'm offering up a contrast here. Your riches are corrupted, but yet there are godly men who were not corrupted by riches such as Paul. He's taken no one's silver or gold or apparel such as Samuel. Who have I cheated? Who have I ripped off?

No one, they said. And so, a Christian takes these things into consideration, adds them up and comes out with an answer to the temptations of life that will most certainly come our way. So the filthy rich and the filthy poor can both be guilty of covetedness even though one fails to gain what they covet and the other one has not.

It's what is in the heart, not what is in the wallet portfolio, but what is in your heart. Thanks for joining us today as we took a deeper look into the book of James here on Cross-Reference Radio. Cross-Reference Radio is the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville in Virginia. We're blessed to bring you God's word with each broadcast. If you'd like more information or want to listen to additional teachings from Pastor Rick, please visit our website, If you've been blessed by this program, we'd love to hear from you. When you visit the website, simply click on the contact us link at the top of the page and leave us a message. That website again is Please join us again next time as we continue our study through the book of James right here on Cross-Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-23 09:13:31 / 2024-05-23 09:38:29 / 25

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