What is your investment strategy? Generally speaking, when it comes to financial investment, the greater the potential return, the greater the risk. So, financial planners may recommend a strategy that is focused on Preservation of Principal.

But what about investing with the preservation of the other kind of principle?

James 5 addresses wealthy Christians who were abusing their wealth and taking advantage of the poor. James 5 brings us to a point of transition. This is the strongest exhortation in the book. This is the end of a lengthy section that began in James 3:13 – Earthly wisdom vs. Heavenly wisdom.
James’ is warning these Jewish believers who were wandering from their faith in Christ.

James 5:1. Who Were these Rich Christians? 5:1
“Come now, you rich.”
They had GARMENTS (5:2)
They had GOLD (5:3)
They had BUSINESSES (5:4)
They possessed the three greatest symbols of wealth of their day – elegant clothes, gold and fields busy with laborers. These Jewish Believers were EXCEPTIONALLY RICH. We might call them the 1%!

Remember that James was written around 45-50 AD. The timing of James’ letter corresponds exactly to a time of poverty in the Roman world. We read about this through the prophecy of Agabus. “And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius).” (Acts 11:28, ESV) The reign of Claudius was 41-54. The writing of James corresponds exactly to the famine prophesied by Agabus.

The saints in Jerusalem were also scattered (Acts 8:1) about this time. This dispersion due to persecution was a cause of great financial hardship. The Apostle Paul would later bring a collection from the believers in Asia Minor to assist the saints in Jerusalem. Jewish believers were not wealthy at this time, but at great disadvantage. So, when James addresses Christians who were abusing their wealth and neglecting the needs of others, they were doing so during a time of great need. This makes their sin even more deplorable.

Does this apply to me?
Few of us think of ourselves as RICH.
There are no Bill Gates here
There are no Warren Buffet’s here
There are no rich Athletes or Business tycoons here.
We think that we are not the 1% obsession of the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

BUT… If you live in America, you are in the top 10% of the world’s economy!
50% of the world’s population live on around $2,000 per year.
The top 10% around $61,000 per year
The top 1% around $510,000 per year.
The bottom 10% of the U.S. income distribution falls in the upper 30% of the global income distribution. Courtney Blair, http://mic.com/articles/2636/compared-to-the-rest-of-the-world-americans-are-all-the-1
1.2 billion in the hworld do not have access to electricity (Washington Post) http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/29/heres-why-1-2-billion-people-still-don’t-have-access-to-electricity/
About 2.6 billion people – half the developing world – lack even a simple ‘improved’ latrine
1.1 billion people has no access to any type of improved drinking source of water. (World Health Organization) http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/mdg1/en/

So although you may not be “rich” in comparison to other friends, by simple virtue of the fact that we live in America, we are rich in comparison the vast majority of the world! If James were writing to the Church in America today, he would include this section. Perhaps he would make it stronger! “This section of James should send tremors through many American Christians, for the culture in which we live is fundamentally oriented toward leisure.” Kurt A. Richardson, James, vol. 36, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 213.
James 5:2-3 Their Confidence was in their Possessions. “Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days.” (James 5:2–3, ESV)

Their SIN was confidence in their wealth.
James ECHOS what Jesus taught.
James 5:2 “”rotten, moth eaten” sounds much like Jesus when he said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19, ESV)
James 5:3 “You have laid up treasure in these last days” sounds much like Jesus when he said, “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:20, ESV)

This passage in James reminds us of the parable of the rich man building bigger barns in Luke 12:13-21 . Jesus says, “fool, this night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

James is emphasizing that they were trusting in their treasure without trusting in God. WEALTH is not evil, but it is temporary! Spiritual riches are our only hope for the future. “You have laid up treasure in the last days.”

Gold and Silver do not corrode. James is telling them that their accumulated wealth would speak against them in heaven. “Gold and silver would corrode precisely because the rich oppressors valued them for not corroding. God’s judgment would physically empty them of value.” Kurt A. Richardson, James, vol. 36, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 206.
“In the natural world rust only degrades common metals. But God’s judgment on the unjust rich consumes not only the wealth they trusted to buy security but also the rich themselves.” Kurt A. Richardson, James, vol. 36, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 207.

Several years ago, construction workers happened upon a corpse outside the ancient city of Pompeii. The mumified corpse had been fleeing from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Overtaken by the molten lava, she died in the hot ashes. The corpses revealed hands that were clutched around jewels. The jewels had survived, but the woman had not.”

Gold and silver are helpful in THIS LIFE ONLY. They do not corrode here on earth… For HEAVENLY REWARD, do not trust in wealth.

James 5:4-6. JUDGMENT Awaits those who possess only earthly riches.
Your GOLD will speak against you. (5:3 “evidence against you).
The WAGES of you’re the laborers you cheated will speak against you.
NOTE- The WAGES THEMSELVES and not those who remained impoverished give testimony against these rich people.
Wages that are accumulated in your own account will speak against you! The unused wealth that sits accumulating for your security is evidence to convict you. This wealth it could have been used to sustain life for someone else.

5:5 “you lived in luxury and self indulgence.”
Luxury = “to lead a soft life”
Self indulgence = just as they selfishly fought with one another (4:1-2) and selfishly judged one another (4:11) – so they also selfishly indulged themselves while others were in need.

“Fattened your hearts in the day of slaughter” = OT picture of being unprepared for the coming judgment. Note the useage in the following passages:
“For the Lord is enraged against all the nations, and furious against all their host; he has devoted them to destruction, has given them over for slaughter.” (Isaiah 34:2, ESV)

“I will destine you to the sword, and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter, because, when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not listen, but you did what was evil in my eyes and chose what I did not delight in.”” (Isaiah 65:12, ESV)

“O Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You have struck them down, but they felt no anguish; you have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent.” (Jeremiah 5:3, ESV)

Application
How do we balance wise stewardship against selfish hoarding?
WISE STEWARDSHIP is clearly taught in Scripture. James is not suggesting that theses Christians give all of their wealth away. The Lord may call someone to this unique burden, but it is not commanded or expected that Christians surrender their wealth. The following principles are just a few of the passages that guide us to save wisely.
Luke 19. the wise steward is rewarded for sound investment
2 Cor 12:14. – saving for your children
Prov 13:22; 19:14. Leave an inheritance for your children
1 Cor 16:1-2 – saving money so that we can help others.
Prov 27:23-27 – know the condition of your flocks so that you can be prosperous
Diversify your investments – Ecc 11:2
Do not be in debt – Prov 22:7

BEWARE that these practices are to provide for our EARTHLY CARE. Our greater focus in life must be on things that are ETERNAL

Selfish Hoarding – signs that your trust is in wealth
you are not giving to the Lord
You are not compassionate toward the needs of others
You obsess about money
Your time for rest, family, church and others is crowded out by over commitment to work and making money
You are dissatisfied with what you have
You are jealous over others
You think that your circumstances are not fair

We can relate this to the current Border crisis. Christians are caught between the principle that a nation’s laws should be enforced and the need for compassion on the poor.

God establishes governments to establish laws and control behavior. Enforcing borders and immigration policy is part of the government’s responsibility. Our government is neglecting this responsibility and it will come with great peril. America cannot take in everyone who wishes to come. It is appropriate for the government to control immigration.

Christians are also commanded to care for the poor. One of the many passages on this subject is right here in James 1:23-27 where our Christianity is exemplified by our concern for the poor, hungry and the widows and orphans.

The Problem is that these two principles are in conflict as illegal immigrants are here and they are hungry and poor. As Christians, we were not directly responsible for the immigration crisis. It is the fault of our government, especially the current administration that set this crisis in motion. An article by the Heritage foundation explains how this happened.

“Immigration policies that are selectively enforced and not properly administered—together with high levels of crime and endemic rates of violence in these countries—have led to this current crisis”

The Obama administration has found a loophole in a 2008 law and is using this loophole to encourage tens of thousands of new illegal immigrants.
The law is “The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA). It set up special procedures for handling UAC (unaccompanied alien children) from non-contiguous nations” (nations not bordering the US).

Obama is at fault for the current crisis with tens of thousands of children, as well as adults crossing our border.
The most specific example of such discretion used to not enforce the law is President Obama’s unilateral Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides work authorization and protection from immigration enforcement to individuals who were brought unlawfully as children before June 2007. Essentially a temporary and Administration-dictated amnesty, DACA harms the rule of law by ignoring the clear text and intent of current immigration law.
SOURCE: “Children Illegally Crossing the U.S. Border: Responding Requires Policy Changes” By David Inserra
http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/07/children-illegally-crossing-the-us-border-responding-requires-policy-changes

What should our RESPONSE be?
1- Compassion on those who are here, whether illegal or not.
We Are Responsible:
– Clear thinking about the role of government and our responsibility as citizens
– Vote for honest men and women who hold a biblical world view
– Articulate the truth to our sphere of influence with compassion and conviction
– petition our government when they stray from God’s word

WHILE WE ARE DOING THIS: Compassion on everyone in need. Let the govt. be responsible for the law.

POINT of ACTION
Petition the President, Senators Menendez and Booker and Congressman LoBiondo
Seek ways to help displaced children if they are brought here.