James on Justice (An Appeal for Classless Christianity) James 4:1-17

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This is the 7th in a series of posts on the epistle of James. I put the highlights here in the blog and then unpack it in my podcast. I encourage you to listen to it in order to connect the dots and get the meat of the teaching.

A lot of Christians seem to be just as obsessed as any pre-christian with wealth, social status, power, and personal pleasure…

James wrote some pretty severe things. And he was writing to the Church, not to the National Association of Atheists!

The Christians he addressed were fighting for more possessions, for a better class, for a better social position, a better socioeconomic status…

Wanting and hoping for enough is one thing, but lusting for more than enough is another… What would you do with your more-than-enough? Give it away or keep it all for yourself?

True “shalom” is when you either give out of our privileged position or give up your position for the community’s sake.

We’re on the earth to add shalom to our culture, but instead of sprinkling it in like salt, in many cases we’ve lost our saltiness by adopting the world’s lust for more… And then worse, we sanctify our lusts by convincing ourselves that God wants us to possess more and be on the top of society’s heap…

It’s the selfish consumption of more than our due at the expense of others who don’t have enough for a modicum quality of life that offends God!

Instead of asking God for what we want, we should asking him for the right wants!

God does allow a lot of people to acquire wealth to use for his glory, but to make consumptive acquisition a universal promise for all and an evidence of great faith and true spirituality is, in my opinion, not only mistaken, it’s evil!

Viv Grigg said: “My message to the middle-class could be summed up by the following five slogans: Earn much, consume little, hoard nothing, give generously, and celebrate life.”

If we live in a covetous, consumeristic way, it makes us adulterous enemies of God!

Our lust for more at the expense of those who don’t have enough is like lusting for someone else’s wife or husband…

So when we cheat on God by putting our wants in front of his wants it’s because we’ve been seduced by our God-rejecting culture… We’ve run off with another lover named “Mammon”…

Some people with a lot of money are called to give it all away to serve God, like Francis of Assisi and CT Studd. Others like Bono and Albert Schweitzer serve him with and through their wealth and influence.

We can’t be generous, simple-living, poor-loving, classless Christians in our own strength… He gives us sufficient grace for it…

He wants all of you, so he gives you all of himself to give all of yourself to him!

God jealously longs for our full devotion … He is drawn to humility and repulsed by pride…

He empowers us to be shalom receivers and carriers…

Damming up the current of arrogance and superiority is serious business. It requires a determined repentance for us to go from there to the neighborliness that God requires…

Greatness looks like something completely other than what our culture, our flesh, and the devil portrays…

Work hard and be productive, but as quickly as riches come they also go, so don’t make too much of them…

4 Replies to “James on Justice (An Appeal for Classless Christianity) James 4:1-17”

  1. I think this is such an important conversation! I live in that in-between space where I spend a significant amount of my time inside an impoverished neighborhood, yet my husband’s job places us in a peer set that has a lot of social and economic clout. I see the need on one side and I see the heavy consumerism on the other, and I struggle to live in an authentic way. I fail to give as much as my heart and mind tell me I should, while simultaneously isolating myself from my middle-class (Christian) peer group because of my different life (and economic) choices and beliefs. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you say in this post, and yet I feel like I have so few examples to turn to to see what this looks like in action among American Christians. When I do encounter others making significant sacrifices for the sake of the poor, I feel so deeply encouraged. I would love to have more such examples. The struggle against American consumerism (and natural selfishness) is very hard!


  2. I hear you. We have to resist an arrogant spirit of “knowing and doing what others are not,” at the same time we want to faithfully do what we know to do and let the Spirit do what he alone can do to speak to our friends and families. “Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.”

    Thanks for chiming in and helping us find our way!


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