Yesterday, I preached on James 5:1-6. It's one of those passages where a casual gloss of the text could easily lead the reader to conclude that the passage doesn't apply to them. Who of us thinks we're really rich? What's the standard of luxury? Few of us have unpaid farmers who have mowed our fields. So, we do nothing.
But, the Bible is written to get to the heart of matters. And, while a text may not seem applicable to me on the surface, there's always a deeper principle that God has designed to impact my life [see 2 Timothy 3:16-17]. For example, the deeper principle of James 5:1-6 is the stockpiling of resources to benefit oneself to the loss of others who needed the resources more. While I didn't think that I had personally refused blessing to anyone in need, the Lord brought to mind the saving of mission resources in our church budget "for a rainy day." This potential "hoarding" of mission riches stood in stark contrast to the the growing famine in the horn of Africa. Poor people desperately need what we could give. We just needed to apply the biblical principle and act.
And we did. Pantego Bible Church committed $40,000 to famine relief through our partnership with World Vision, a ministry that has a long track record of caring for children and families in the developing world. Through government grants, this contribution will be matched five times, for a total of $200,000!
The remarkable thing is that a seemingly irrelevant passage suddenly sprung personally to life! This is the way God's Word operates. If we really don't want to be changed--to continue living a Christ off-centered life--then the Bible will never be more than ancient letters written for someone else. But, if we approach the Bible expecting to be changed, we position ourselves where the Holy Spirit can take us beyond the surface facts to the heart of the matter.