James: Money or Relationships – 6

Rev. Dan Borgelt
Kirkmont Presbyterian Church
Beavercreek, Ohio
http://www.kirkmont.com/

Opens with a very humorous “tongue-in-cheek” video of the exact opposite of what kind of people will be in heaven

Pastor Dan’s Audio Message:

James 4:1-17

Verbatim Transcription – Pastor Dan  Borgelt

“You all didn’t laugh for the first 10 seconds… and I was really worried, like what if I stand up there and no one got it was a joke (LAUGHTER).  That was a joke just in case you were wondering; and if you’re new to the church maybe you think that’s right, ya know. It does remind us that churches don’t always act the way that they’re supposed to doesn’t it.

The other day I was reminded of just how many people out there are looking for a reason to write off the church or justify the fact that they’ve ALREADY written off the church. I got a call from a relative; and just in case this relative ever happens to listen to this message on the internet or something…

By the way… our internet listening has DOUBLED in the last couple months (clapping); we now have TWO people who listening to our messages (LOUD LAUGHTER) so we’re really fired up, there’s a lot of momentum, it’s a great ministry… but anyway…
I don’t think that this person’s gonna listen to the message, but we were talking on the phone, we had a good conversation talking about different things… and this is a person who’s been dealt some really hard blows in life, and I really empathise for him… and some of those blows have come from the church itself and they’ve become very skeptical about the church.
I don’t think they go anywhere at all…  and before we hung up the phone this relative said to me, “Oh and by the way… where were all those so-called friendly helpful Christians from your church when I saw you moving by yourself on Facebook the other day?”

Now, not wanting to argue.. or anything like, I would’ve been able to explain to him, “Well, when the first truck came I gave the church 24 hours notice that I needed some help. The next day, in the middle of the day on a 30 degree day we got about 20 retired men from the church plus some other folks who came and helped. But when the 2nd truck came, I’m not very good at asking for help and I didn’t ask anyone and THAT’S why there wasn’t anybody there.”

But that conversation reminds me that there are so many people out there who are just looking for a reason to write off the church or to justify the fact that they’ve already written off the church.  And there’s someone in your life who feels that way.  And perhaps… PERHAPS it’s YOU here this morning.

And if that’s you, STAY TUNED… you can check out for the next 10-15 minutes but you could stay tuned because we’re going to come back to you at the close of our message together.

And so we continue in the Book of James… we’re going through the Book of James together here at Kirkmont and we’re going through this one chapter at a time… and as we continue today in Chapter 4 we discover there’s so many ways that the church can go wrong; we’ve been discovering that week after week after week, and if you’ve been with us here you can realize that there’s one thing after another that can go wrong with the church.

A few weeks ago, we saw that people were showing favoritism to people, they were giving PREFERENTIAL treatment to people in the church because of how much MONEY they had; and we’ve seen the fact that the early church dealt with the subject of TAMING THE TONGUE, people were gossiping and slandering and saying all kinds of dumb things about each other that they shouldn’t have. Also we dealt with the topic called FAITH and DEEDS and it was a theology topic and we realized that sometimes churches teach the things that aren’t true.

We see all kinds of different ways that people can get things wrong; and so James’ main concern throughout the series has been to try to correct these things and create a sense of unity and peace among the church.

[00:04:59]  (sound quality improves at this point)

And today, in our time here together in James, Chapter 4 we see one more thing that can go wrong in the church… and the thing we’re going to look at is this unhealthy desire for MONEY and the things that go with it… and how it has the ability to ruin our relationship with God and with other people.

Friends, what I want you to be thinking about when you go out to lunch with your friends, your family members; what I want you to be thinking about this week, throughout your week is that our LOVE FOR MONEY and stuff should always be a DISTANT SECOND to our love for God and for people… that our love for money, and stuff should always be a distant second to our love for God and for people.

And by the way I’m’ not actually implying that it should be second; I just mean it should be a long way off… right?   Our love for money should be a long way off from our love for God and for people.

Let me invite you to our passage, it’s the Book of James, chapter 4… and we’d love to have you turn there with us; if you’ve got a Bible or wanna open up a pew Bible; if not, you’re not out of place, we’ll have the Scripture on the screen.  In my Bible it’s on page 1021, but I don’t think that’s gonna help you very much (laughter).

Anyway.. James Chapter 4  “What causes fights and quarrels among you?”  … so here we go, another problem happening in the church–they’re fighting and quarreling amongst each other.  Do churches fight and quarrel today? (smiles)… yeah, just a little bit they do.

At our men’s retreat; Kirkmont had a men’s retreat this past weekend and one of the things we brought up from this book that were looking at together as a group of guys is… this guy was talking about group dynamics and particularly how they pertain to churches… and he was saying that within group dynamics, whenever a group of people get together they naturally, immediately begin to size each other up, and start to create some sort of pecking order.

And I found that very fascinating as I started thinking about the church being unified and having peace with each other… I mean groups of people will get together and immediately start thinking about, ahhh.. WHO’S THE MOST ATTRACTIVE person in the group?  Who’s the SKINNIEST person in the group? Who’s the tallest person in the group? Who has the nicest clothes in the group?  People will think about who’s the TOUGHEST person in the group? Who’s the most athletic? Who has the best pedigree? … whatever it might be.. we’re just saying, in GROUP DYNAMICS when we come together we naturally, maybe subconsciously start to size each other up.

And here we are at the early church and they’re quarreling and fighting with each other and this is starting to happen. We don’t know what they’re fighting about yet; we don’t know what they’re quarreling about, but we know that’s happening.  Then James goes on and he says this,

Don’t they come [these quarrels and fights that is] don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
So what James is saying is, ‘Look Church, if you find yourself fighting with someone else, not disagreeing … can the Church disagree? … can people disagree? ABSOLUTELY… there’s such a thing as Godly-disagreeing. But FIGHTING, if you find yourself fighting with someone, THAT means you have already lost a fight WITHIN YOURSELF. If you find yourself battling with others, it’s only because you have already lost a battle from within… that’s what he says… THEY COME  from your desires that battle within you and when we lose those battles inside of us we end up fighting with other people as well.

We still don’t know what the battle inside of them is… James goes on and says,

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.

And so he goes on and he says, ‘you desire something’, ‘you covet something’.. again we don’t know what that is yet, but what we do know, James is saying, ‘YOU DON’T HAVE IT’.  They haven’t obtained it.

Now you might have gathered from how I introduced our time together this morning, I’m suggesting that what they’re desiring, what they’re wanting, what they’re coveting is more money and the stuff that comes with money. And he’s saying ‘You want that, but you don’t have it’… and I love that inclusion in James because it reminds us that this is not just a message, this is not just an indictment of the people who are already rich… this is an indictment of all people who want and covet money and the things that come with money more than God.

Let me ask you… have you ever met somebody who was rich, who cared more about their money than God?  Absolutely.

But have you not also met somebody who had a lot of money, who cared more about God than their money? Absolutely.

And are there not also poor people who love God more than the prospect of money?  Absolutely.

But are there not also poor people who love the prospect of money way more than God. Absolutely.

This has nothing to do with how much they have or don’t have… and I love when James includes, “you’re desiring something, you’re coveting something, you’re wanting something you don’t have”.. well that implies they’re NOT the richest person in their group… but they still have a problem because they WANT more and want to BE that… and they desire that more apparently than they desire God.

Then the Scripture goes on and says this,

“You do not have [this sounds like an encouraging verse if we could just pull this one right out of context] you do not have because you do not ask God.  Oh that’s wonderful news… if I want more money, I want some more stuff, I just need to ask God, that’s what the Bible teaches. Not exactly, because then he goes on and says,

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend [this is our first clear indication that what James is talking about is MONEY… what they’re fighting about, what they desire, what they covet is money]… that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

It’s money that they were desiring and coveting and the STUFF that comes with money… it’s what they wanted so desperately and it caused them to fight about it as a church.

You see, when we desire money unhealthily it’s going to negatively impact not only our relationship with God, but with other people as well.

  • Let’s just think about the Church.. do churches ever fight about money? … yeah, implied, we don’t need to spend any time on that one.  
  • Do immediately families ever fight about money? Absolutely. 
  • Are families ever torn apart because there’s a husband or a wife or both who are in desperate pursuit of a bigger home and a nicer car.. and working harder even to the neglect of their own marriage and their children… do families ever get completely torn apart because of their pursuit of having more money and the stuff that comes with money?  Absolutely.  
  • Do extended families ever get torn apart because of an unhealthy affection for money?  Yes. 
  • Have parents ever passed away, only to have their children fight and quarrel over their inheritance?  Absolutely.

Ya know and unhealthy affection for money and stuff, it could even ruin our relationship with a complete stranger. The other day I was at Kroger, I was filling up my car with gas and alongside of me pulled up this wonderful, beautiful Corvette. Not like your grandfather’s Corvette… like right off the assembly line Corvette. And the purr of the engine… I felt to myself like, I could either sleep to this every night, or run a marathon; (laughter)… it just had that.. it could do both !!

And I’m used to seeing people in nicer cars who are in different stages in life than me; but one of the wonderful things about Beavercreek, it’s a wonderful community, it’s an affluent community, but I’ve seen a lot of people IN MY OWN AGE GROUP who’ve got way nicer stuff (chuckles).

It’s easier when the person in the Corvette is 30 years older… because you can think, “Well, that will be me someday ya know”… and here this person was MY AGE and I’m in my 2001 salvage titled, hail damaged Infinity that I just found out none of the brake lights work (LAUGHTER)… NONE of them work… so if anybody could help me with that… ahhh… but anyway…

And I was looking at the car, I was filling up and he was filling up and there he was… he had his fancy sunglasses, his fancy clothes; and he had the convertible top down… it was only like 50 degrees.. ya know, and I was sitting there and I got a look on my face… I don’t know I can duplicate it, it was kinda like (making face).. I couldn’t practice this really… it was like THAT.

And he came around the car and he caught me looking at him like that… and he was like kinda weirded out by it and moved on… and I went on and I started driving home and thought to myself, “Dan, if you had that car you’d be wearing some cool sunglasses, and you’d have the convertible top down too at 50 degrees (laughter).

It can effect our relationship with God as well… and that’s what the Scripture goes on to say… when we have an unhealthy affection for money, and the things that come with money, it can negatively effect our relationship with God, and this is what he says in verses 4 and 5:

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.  Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?
So God then brings up this analogy of ADULTERY.. and it’s one we’re very familiar with in our world. We understand the idea of adultery in our culture. It’s one that says, “I’m married to someone, but I’m going to have misplaced affections for another man or another woman.  And we know there are varying degrees of adultery. 

And those degrees all exist here in this congregation this morning… and those varying degrees can be all the way from on one end of the spectrum… of just some sort of some misplaced affection, some misplaced joy that comes from another man or woman that you really should only be receiving from your spouse. All the way to what Jesus says clearly that “if we LOOK at someone lustfully, we begin to imagine what we might do with them, should we have the opportunity, then we’ve committed adultery of a sort in our heart. All the way to full blown adultery.

And God is using this analogy to describe our relationship with Him… and when our affections for money and the things that money has to offer us it’s like we have committed adultery of the heart against God.

See, by the way.. the entire Book of Hosea in the Old Testament is basically this whole scenario… of God’s people SPIRITUALLY committing adultery. AND just like there’s a full spectrum of adultery as WE think of it, there’s a whole section of Spiritual adultery as well.

There are some of you where you’re just at a place where your affection for money and the things that come with money… IT’S NOT AS BAD AS OTHERS AROUND YOU… but if you’re honest and you allow God through the Holy Spirit to speak to you this morning, you allow Him to say to you, “YOU’RE ON THE WRONG PATH… IT IS MISPLACED” .. there is a component of Spiritual adultery in your heart.

And some of you have moved forward and it’s more severe for you.. you are FLIRTING with money and the world in such a way that you are ABOUT to commit full-blown adultery but you haven’t yet… and friends some of you here this morning are full blown getting it on with the world… and some of you think that’s too crass, and some of you might think that’s funny, but the reality is that it’s REAL and it’s SAD and it’s TRAGIC.

And God is calling His people out in the church and saying, “STOP having an affair with the world and come back to me”.

But the beautiful thing about this passage is that it’s not just a gavel coming down designed to make us leave with guilt and shame. In verse 5 the Scripture says that God is jealous for us, He’s given us a Spirit that is jealous for us. Now I don’t know what you think when you hear that word, “jealous”; but most folks around the church think of jealous as what… as a negative thing, don’t we.

But there is such a thing as a Godly well-placed jealousy isn’t there also.

I mean if a husband and wife are out together at a dinner party and a man begins to flirt with another man’s wife or a woman begins to flirt with another woman’s husband there ought to be a healthy component of jealousy from you … that speaks up to you and says, I want to guard and protect the covenant marriage relationship.  

Is there unhealthy jealousy that leads to controlling and abuse?  Absolutely. But friends, the opposite end of the spectrum is not good… if you have a spouse who can’t ever be jealous for you in the world, THAT’S concerning… that they don’t value the covenant relationship enough to WANT to protect it… that is concerning.

I have a blessing of having a Godly Christian wife who is jealous for me… not because of other women, but jealous for me in a different way.

You know, early in our ministry she saw that I was healthy and able to pray with and to minister to other people in the congregation and to other people’s children in the congregation, but not very good at doing that with her and with our kids.

And because I have a Godly wife she wouldn’t allow me to continue down that path; she was jealous for my affection in that way as well…. saying if you’re going to spiritually lead a congregation, you need to spiritually be leading our house as well.. right?  I’m certainly not perfect in that area, certainly have a LOT of room improve… but I’ve had a LOT of improvement because of her jealousy for me in that area HAS HAPPENED and occurred.

And in the same way, this is what God is saying to us… He’s saying “I love you SO MUCH… I want to have a relationship with you SO MUCH, I am not content to allow you to have an affair with the WORLD and all that it has to offer… COME BACK… you’re committing adultery, come back to Me; enter back into this relationship with me”.

Do you see the beauty of this passage? God is saying “I SENT MY SON JESUS CHRIST TO DEMONSTRATE MY LOVE FOR YOU… that while you were still sinning He would die on the cross for your sins… that’s how far, that’s how serious I am about having a relationship with you; and I’m not going to allow you to continue to be unfaithful and adulterous in this world… come back.. have a relationship with Me”.

And then He tells us in the Scripture EXACTLY how to do that… if you’re here this morning and you feel like your affection for money or for the things that come with money… or ANY-THING else for that matter has crept too close to God, or surpassed God, here’s God’s solution for us in verse 7+ he says…

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Now earlier I referenced the Book of Hosea which is all about God’s people repeatedly committing spiritual adultery by loving the world more than God. And one of the things I discovered as I preached through that book last Summer is that God almost never, in the Bible… declares His people guilty without giving them the opportunity to repent. That’s a wonderful aspect of God’s character.

And here He is saying, “Yeah Church… you’ve committed adultery but there’s an opportunity, it’s not over, I’m not done with you… I’m not declaring that the relationship is over; here’s an opportunity to come back to Me… that’s how much I have the desire to have a relationship with you.”

Well look friends… we’re going to read through the rest of this chapter together, make a couple passing comments with these next couple sections for time sake.  Here’s what the Scripture says though and I want to show you that James is not moving on to a new subject.

This next section of Scripture verses 11 and 12 says this:

Brothers and sisters do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Man, this is the favorite Scripture of all those who would like to write off the church… here it is. We often here, “The church is a group of people who just JUDGE… and that’s not what their own Bible says they should do. They say that my lifestyle and what I do is wrong and they’re judging, they’re judging, they’re judging… “

But let’s look at those verses in light of what we’ve been just talking about. The context is God is addressing a group of people who are fighting with each other inside of a church community because of their love and affection for money and what comes with money… apparently they got so in love with money, so willing to compete with each other, like the video was showing us… that they were willing to slander each others’ names–say false things about each other if that meant improving their odds of being successful.

THAT is the context in which we hear these Words from God saying we ought not to judge each other.. it has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not the church of Jesus Christ today is able to look at the world and say, “Hey guys… we don’t think that that behavior lines up with Scripture”… it has absolutely NOTHING to do with that.

And then he closes, in our time together this morning.. there’s a new fancy heading in some of your Bibles boasting about tomorrow… but it’s not a new topic:

Boasting About Tomorrow

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.  If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

So he’s saying that sometimes people get to a place where their affection for money and what has to offer becomes SO STRONG that

Boasting About Tomorrow
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

So he’s saying that sometimes people get to a place where their money and their affection for money, what money has to offer becomes SO STRONG that they make plans for their future regardless of what God might have to say about that… their plans for their future are ONLY what will provide them with the most likely chance to make money, regardless of what God has to say about how they should live out their life.

Friends, as a youth pastor I used to deal with teenagers at crucial times in their life as they were thinking about what college they wanted to go to and what they wanted to do with the rest of their life; and there was nobody more difficult to deal with in convincing these teenagers that they should follow God’s will than their own parents

…because I would tell these kids that, “Look, you need to seek the Lord’s will and be willing to do whatever it is He wants you to do… and it might cause you to make a lot of money and it might cause you to be dirt poor, but you gotta do what God has called you to do…”  and most parents have no interest in that at all… they say, “My kid’s going to law school, my kid’s going to be a doctor, my kid is going to do this… and they’ve raised their kids up in the church with ir-regard for what their kids future might have to be in relationship to God’s Will.

This is what this section is about.. it’s a continuation of our misplaced affection for money and what the world has to offer.  We begin to write God off in our future because pursuing money means more to us than Him.

Our love of money and stuff needs to be a distant second to God and people.

Ya know earlier I said that I would address the person here in this room who’s maybe ready to write off the Church. And if that’s you, or you’re just waiting for the Church to mess up one more time before you’re done let me save you the time, you should just leave now (light loving chuckle in Pastor Dan’s voice).

The Church is going to mess up… now I want to sympathize with you because I know some of you have been deeply wounded by unhealthy churches… and I don’t mean to suggest they’re aren’t really unhealthy churches that you should not be at… but the BEST of best churches mess up and are places where wound each other.

But if you’re willing to write off the entire idea of church because of the prospect of being wounded… it feels a lot like writing off the idea of having kids because they MIGHT interfere with your life somehow.

Do kids cost money? Amen. Do kids wake you up in the middle of the night? Amen. Do kids mess up some of your plans?  Amen. But… are kids an incredible BLESSING to us? Amen !!!.  Does the blessing that comes far outweigh any of the cost? Absolutely.. right?

And in the same way I believe there are negative things that are gonna happen in being a part of any church fellowship.  But my experience has been that the BLESSING of being a part of the right church fellowship far outweighs the negative.

I invite you if that’s you to consider your own hypocrisy. You say the church is a holier-than-thou place, and why would you want anything to do with it?  And yet at the same time you’re saying to me… “the church is so messed up you don’t want to be a part of it?” … now who’s holier than thou?

Sounds a lot like you’re saying “You’re too good for us”.  We’re at least here admitting we’re broken and we’re sinners and we desperately need God’s help to be in a relationship with Him… and we’re inviting you in YOUR brokenness to join us in doing that.

Let’s pray:
Father we thank you for this Scripture, we thank you for our church fellowship and we continue to pray that our church will be one unified and filled with your peace. We invite you to show each and everyone of us as individuals and the leadership here at the church, if our affection for money has gotten too close for our affection for You and for other people Lord.  We pray that this message and the truth of Your Word would resonate on our hearts not just now, but it would be used by You to make us more like your Son Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen

– – – – – – – – –

All Pastor Dan’s Sermons:
http://www.kirkmont.com/sermons.htm

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