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Wealth and Wisdom, James 4:13- 5:6

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Business acumen is something we admire in this society, but how does the Lord want us to run our businesses? To whom is our success attributed? What is the goal of our business; does the business serve our interests or the Lord's? How do we treat our customers and our workers? Apparently the early-persecuted church, which had been recently scattered from Jerusalem, faced this issue. Like today, when the businessmen saw challenges they viewed them as opportunities. When the recently displaced believers and Christian businessmen were forced to move to a new area, they viewed it as an opportunity with a new clientele to sell their goods. Unfortunately, they gave little thought to what the Lord might want them to do with their talents. It is not wrong to make business plans, but we ought to give thought to who is giving the opportunities and how we ought to use our resources for his glory. What were the businessmen saying in the days of James (the Lord's brother and respected elder of the church)? James 4:13

Answer 1


What perspective should Christian businessmen have and what attitude should they take? James 4:14-15

Answer 2


What did the businessmen say instead and what was James' judgment on the matter? James 4:16-17

Answer 3

Although this Bible context had special reference to Christian businessmen living in that time period and situation, we might also apply the same principles to anything we do, even sports and hobbies. Do we boast about our abilities and what we are going to do, or do we seek the Lord's will and use our opportunities and talents for him? There are things he wants us to do and we should do them. We should not seek our own will but seek to help others.

James 5:1-6 deals with judgment on rich Christians who abuse their positions. For what four sins did James condemn them?

Answer 4

Can even Christians today fall into the trappings of wealth? Yes, but they, too, will suffer for it.

Lessons to Live by: (ask for members' input first)


Today's Bible memory verse:

James 4:17 “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.” (NIV)

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A1: "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." (James 4:13, NIV)

A2: Life is temporary and short. God gives us forgiveness, peace, and new spiritual life (more...). Therefore, we should do the Lord's will and operate under his direction and sovereignty.

A3: The businessmen boasted and bragged instead of genuinely trying to help people when they had the opportunity and resources to do it. In this they sinned.


  • First they were hoarding their wealth instead of doing something good with it, therefore James said their wealth was corroding and they were suffering physically for it. The indication from the past tense verbs is that the judgment from God had already started. The words "last days" seems to indicate that their time might be short on this earth because of persecution. Therefore, they should have used their wealth for the Lord instead of themselves.
  • Second, the rich were exploiting and abusing their workers by using their services and not paying them.
  • Third, they lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. The day of slaughter for their sheep and oxen should have been a day of rejoicing and sharing with the workers, but instead the rich people fattened themselves.
  • Fourth, they condemned and murdered innocent men. The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the New Testament, by Walvoord and Zuck, © 1985, says that “in their scramble for more wealth they used their influence in courts of justice and were guilty of bringing even innocent men to condemnation and even death,” (p.833).

Lessons to Live by:

  • God gives us forgiveness of sins, peace, and new spiritual life (more...). All our talents and abilities come from the Lord and should be used for him.
  • We should realize our time on this earth is short; therefore, we should do all the good we can for the Lord and to help others.
  • We will be judged for living self indulgent and abusive lifestyles. Live in the fear of the Lord and use wealth for His purposes.

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