Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What to Do with Wealth (James 5:1-6)

- This is a grave warning to the rich who oppress field workers for personal gain.
- There are many negative effects that wealth can have on people's lives. The culprit is not the wealth or the money itself. It's the love and lust for money and the failure in stewardship. "Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." 1 Timothy 6:9-10
- All riches in this life not invested in Heavenly treasure are doomed to destruction. All the earthly possessions/wealth will rot, decay, be gone. We cannot take any of it with us when we die. How foolish it is for us to spend our whole life hoarding wealth! There are many stories/examples about wealthy people who end up miserable and lost at the end of their lives.
- Wealth is meant to be used for good purposes...for the good of mankind. We're blessed to be a blessing to others/to share with others (especially those in need), not to hoard for ourselves. We should use our resources for God's glory and God's kingdom, not ours.
- Though the rich oppressors didn't realize it, wealth was destroying them and their last days were already present and misery/judgment was coming on them.
- Their first sin was hoarding wealth (failing in their stewardship of God's resources). Their second sin was the cruel defrauding/cheating they did to the poor farm laborers. The Lord Almighty (whose Name suggests His sovereign omnipotence) is not oblivious to the injustice. "The Lord is a Refuge for the oppressed, a Stronghold in times of trouble." (Psalm 9:9)
- Their third sin was their luxurious/extravagant living and self-indulgence (pleasing themselves with everything they wanted and going to any length to get more). It's all about worldly pleasures and self.
- Poor people are dragged into court (James 2:6) and cannot defend themselves. They're completely at the mercy of the unscrupulous rich men. These rich men used the courts to "condemn" and "murder" the innocent/the just. The rich lifestyle can be addicting and become a consuming sin that leads to other sins. The thought and pursuit of it becomes the primary focus in life (we even see this in some Christians---ex: Prosperity Gospel).
- What God is condemning: cheating, taking advantage of people, dishonorable ways of obtaining and using wealth, hoarding, flaunting of wealth with luxurious living and self-indulgence. By doing these things, they were dishonoring God Who was the One Who blessed them in the first place.
- We must examine ourselves. I'm pretty sure all of us here are "rich" :) (according to the Bible, being "rich" is having more than what we need to survive today). Are we generous? It may not involve cheating people out of pay but simply an attitude of being as stingy as possible to keep more money for ourselves. It's a mindset that is self-focused and is not being considerate about others. Remember that God loves a cheerful giver and it is more blessed to give than to receive :)!

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