Every week on ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown former NFL receiver Keyshawn Johnson hosts a segment called C’mon Man! In it he talks about the funniest football fails from throughout the week adding the phrase “C’mon man!” for good measure.
As weird as it may sound, James does this exact same thing in his New Testament letter only for him the mistakes of the audience were not minor slip-ups, but soul-costing mistakes. Mistakes that you and I can be guilty of today.
Today’s study takes us through James 4:11-5:6 and gives us examples of how not to behave as Christians.
A Lesson on Judgment (4:11-12)
When we last left off James had both condemned this audience’s current behavior (4:1-5) and told them how they can reverse the dangerous path that they’re on (4:6-10). Following this hopeful writing, James gives these Christians a reminder about judging and the judgment of God (4:11-12).
James again speaks to the issues of these Christians. They are still continuing to use the wisdom that “is earthly, unspiritual, [and] demonic” (3:15) and as a result they are speaking “evil against one another” and the law and judging their brother and the law (4:11).
The problem here is two-fold:
First, instead of doing the law they are judging it (4:11).
Second, they are judging/condemning their neighbor (4:12).
In connection to their judging it seems that they are judging, not with God’s judgment, but with their own (you can’t “judge the law” if your using the law as your guiding judge).
At this point in our text we’re seeing just how rotten many of these people are. They have themselves a number of issues, but all of them are leading them towards abandoning God and His law. In the next section following this (4:13-5:6) we’ll see what happens when people drift away from God and His word.
Come On Man! (4:13-5:6)
James 4:13-5:6 can, and should, be broken up into two parts. Part one is composed of verses 13-17 of chapter four and part two is composed of verses one through six of chapter five. Each of these sections contains several similarities:
They both begin with the phrase “come now” (4:13; 5:1)
They both deal with the pursuit of riches (4:13; 5:2-5)
They both deal with the end of life/judgement (4:14; 5:5-6)
Each section ultimately reveals what will happen to those people who live worldly lives. Let’s observe this by breaking down the first and then moving on to the second.
In the first section (4:13-17) the problem with these individuals are their priorities. Instead of doing God’s will (see 4:11) they are pursuing their own interests, money and profits (4:13). James reminds them of both the uncertainty of tomorrow and the brevity of life as a whole (4:14). At any moment these money-minded Christians could be swept away from the earth and it would not be good to be swept from the earth when your actions are characterized as “boasting,” “evil,” and “arrogance” (4:16). These Christians need to get their life back on track and turn to God and His desires and plans for them (4:15) if they plan on removing the sin in their lives (4:17).
In the second section (5:1-6) the problem with these individuals is that have put all of their trust into riches that can’t last (5:2-3). They are guilty of storing up treasure on earth as opposed to heaven. Instead of merely warning them of the shortness of life James indicates to them that their love of money is “crying out” against them (5:4) and will be “evidence” against them on the day they are slaughtered (5:3). James seems to indicate that a lot of the money these Christians had received was taken “by fraud” (5:4). In other words, these Christians love of money has led them to ignore love of their brethren and, as a result, they are headed towards the punishment of Hell.
In our final two studies, covering 5:7-20, we will see James give hope to the Christians suffering at the hands of these evil men addressed throughout the rest of the book. As for those evil men, they have heard the warnings of James. The Lord of hosts has heard the cry of the righteous men and women suffering by their hands and He is ready to exact His punishment on them (5:4-6).
Many of us reading this would classify ourselves as the persecuted Christian, but maybe we ought to remind ourselves of the character of those who are doing the persecuting. They are the ones who pass temptation off on God (1:13), know Gods law but fail to do it (1:22-25), show favoritism to the rich while ignoring the poor (2:1-7), fail to watch their words and teachings (3:1-12), and use wisdom that is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic (3:13-15). Are you guilty of the same? For many of us that answer is sometimes yes. That’s a problem. Luckily, the solution is the same: turn to God, humble yourself before Him and He will lift you up (4:6-10).
Honor the memory of Daniel Isaac Whitworth by donating to the Memorial Scholarship benefitting his preschool at the Keller Church of Christ.
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