Posts Tagged ‘Wealth


No Favorites In Church

Jesus said it and James did too, God doesn’t play favorites and neither should we. This is what James said:

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. – James 2:1 (NIV)

James gives the example of two people coming into a gathering of believers. One is obviously wealthy and the other is obviously from the poor side of the tracks. The wealthy believer is shown preferential treatment and the poorer person is not shown the same attention. This should not be the case.
If a church plays favorites, they are directly in violation of God’s commands. God’s grace is the same for all regardless of age, gender, economic status or past. We cannot show favoritism to the wealthy just because they’re on a higher rung of society or to garner some kind of favor from them. We may be tempted to kowtow to the wealthy to fund our ministries or to reach their wealthy friends. The key is to devote ourselves to the truth of the Gospel first and foremost and not play favorites. Otherwise, we’ll be tempted to water down the Word of God so as not to offend those who may be living high on the hog.

Is Jesus Enough?

James says that the poor should take pride in their low position because they have a deeper faith in God. Then he addresses the wealthy believers who were in the church at Jerusalem. He said:

But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. – James 1:10-11 (NIV)

If a wealthy believer were to lose every material possession, they could still rejoice in the fact that they have Jesus. The question for us all, especially American Christians who have so much, is this: “Is Jesus enough?” We have so much more than the rest of the world that we forget that we are so blessed. If you were to lose everything, would Jesus be enough? Would you be satisfied knowing that you have Him and the promise of Heaven? Ask yourself this question today as you count your many blessings.

Greed And Hoarding

Luke 12:13-21 (NIV)

The Parable of the Rich Fool
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Greed.  In the Parable of the Rich Fool, Jesus warns against it.

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” – Luke 12:15 (NIV)

Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:10 (NIV):

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.

Notice that Paul does not say that money is the root of all evil.  He says that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Kyle Idleman, in his book Not A Fan, says about the rich young ruler that the problem wasn’t that he had money, but that money had him.  It is far too easy to become possessed by our possessions.  To be worried about our things instead of focusing on our faith.  Our Heavenly Father knows what we need. He will provide for us when we trust Him.  We must seek first those things that are most important – His Kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33) and He will bless us with all that we need.  Jesus is telling us today, “Don’t worry.  Don’t hoard.  Don’t store up the things of this life.  They are only temporary!”  Let us seek the things of God for then we will truly find blessings and riches beyond our wildest dreams.
PRAYER: Father, help me to focus less on material things and more on the eternal things. Help me to know that You hold all things together. I don’t want to be greedy. Instead, I want to be thankful. Thank You for all that You have provided for me. You are faithful. Amen.

We All End Up In The Same Place

James 5:1-6 (NIV)
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.
The disparity between the wealthiest of society and the poorest is quite evident in our world today.  Class warfare is a real thing.  The media fans the flames between the haves and have-nots.  Those who have are portrayed as greedy.  Those who have not are portrayed as oppressed.  In many instances, this is true.  The wealthiest among us are not actually among us.  They may not understand the plight of the commoner.  Tens of millions of dollars in bonuses each year for a CEO who cuts the workforce of their company by 10% because their profit margins are too slim does not compute for the family who is a part of the 10%.  Shareholders are given more consideration than the worker who makes it all possible.  This is not true in all instances, but oftentimes it is the case.
Here’s the bad news for the CEOs and the wealthiest, as well as for the blue-collar workers and the poorest – you cannot take it with you.  Whether you’re living high on the hog or underneath it, your wealth (or lack thereof) will not punch your ticket into Heaven.  God is not impressed by a stock portfolio.  He is not wowed by a fleet of airplanes.  God is not pleased with greed.  Paul made it clear that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10).  That goes for those who are wealthy as well as those who are poor.  The motivation for wealth stems from the same source – greed.  If you have lots of money, you want more.  If you have no money, you really want more.  Money cannot get us into Heaven with Christ.  Only Jesus can do that.  What did He tell the rich young man?  Give it all away.  Those who hoard wealth as well as those who desire wealth will all end up in the same place – the grave.  The key to overcoming the grave is to put your faith and trust in Jesus, not in your money.
PRAYER: Lord God, help me to put my trust in You to provide all that I need.  Money and wealth are not the answer.  Give me the strength I need to trust You and to be generous with all that you’ve given to me.  Thank You for the blessings You have provided.  Help me to see Your blessings and not take them for granted today.  Amen.

Praying For Poverty

James 2:5-7​
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?
Is poverty a blessing in disguise?  James says that God chose the poor to be rich in faith.  The world has a skewed view of rich and poor.  The world sees the wealthy as blessed and the poor as stricken.  On the other hand, those who are poor (in spirit and pocket) have learned to rely on God for their daily bread.
Jesus told us, when we pray, to pray for our daily needs to be met, nothing more and nothing less.  Otherwise, we put our faith in the things of this world – our houses and property, our jobs, and in our savings accounts or stock portfolios to name a few.  Even when we live paycheck to paycheck, we often trust in our own abilities to provide and manipulate our bills and finances to make ends meet.
James says that those who live paycheck to paycheck are rich in faith.  This is the wealth we need!  Agur in the book of Proverbs said this:

“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.​ – Proverbs 30:7-9 (NIV)​
Some of the wealthiest people in this world are so poor that all they have is money.  Those who are poor are blessed with ​faith in God and the unconditional love of family and friends.  The rich are loved by some because of their riches.  People hope that they might eat from the crumbs of their tables.  The poor cannot be used by anyone because they don’t have anything!
Do not pray to win the lottery or to be rich beyond your wildest dreams.  Pray to be poor in the wallet and rich in faith.  For the poor who love God are promised eternal life.
PRAYER:  God, You are the giver of all good gifts.  Without You, I have nothing.  Forgive me for my misunderstanding of poverty and wealth.  There are many who literally have nothing and yet I am so blessed.  Help me to be satisfied in You and to be content with what You have provided.  May I be rich in faith no matter how much is in my wallet.  Thank You for blessing me.  Amen.

The Blessing Of Humble Circumstances

James 1:9-11 (NIV)

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower.  For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

Is being poor a blessing or a curse?  Well, it depends on what you mean by being poor.  ​James says that those in “humble circumstances” should “take pride in their high position” (James 1:9, NIV).  We hear the words, “humble circumstances” and we may think, “That sounds like me.”  What is the basis for your comparison?  Is my 3 bedroom home with indoor plumbing, central air conditioning, two televisions, stainless steel appliances and washer and dryer really the definition of “humble circumstances?”  I’ve been to Haiti on a mission trip.  I saw large families living in tin shacks with dirt floors.  There was a curtain to separate one room from the other room (meaning, yes, that there were two rooms in the “house”).  Talk about humble circumstances!  Yet, when they gather for worship on a Sunday, they praise the Lord for hours.  So again, I ask, what is the basis for our comparison of poor versus rich?
I am poor compared to a CEO of a multi-national corporation.  I am wealthy beyond belief compared to about 90% of the rest of the world.  The question must be asked, “Why do I feel like I am poor?”  Whose fault is it that I live in what I consider to be “humble circumstances?”  Is it God’s fault for not blessing me like a Gates or Trump?  Is it my fault for not being wiser with my money?  Is it my fault for not realizing just how rich I truly am?  The fault lies with me.  God has blessed me and continues to do so despite my lack of financial responsibility in the past.  He forgives my poor stewardship of His resources and blesses me anyway much more than I deserve.  
I should rejoice in this “trial” of humble circumstances for in it I learn to lean on Jesus.  I learn to rely on God to provide for my needs.  The wealthy man or woman may not have a faith that grows and matures because they believe that they are self-made.  God provides for our needs over and over again.  Let us learn to be grateful, humble and faithful to the One who is so faithful to us.

Enjoying God’s Blessings

No matter how wealthy or famous you become, if you cannot enjoy your wealth and honor, you’re no better off than the poorest of the poor.  Solomon compares the fate of a person of status with that of a stillborn child.  The person of great wealth and honor, if they cannot enjoy them, might as well be dead.  The stillborn child, in Solomon’s view, never had the torment of fitful, restless nights of worry and no sleep.  The stillborn child rests peacefully in the arms of God.  The one who is wealthy beyond his or her wildest dreams has the same fate – death.
I think that the point of this teaching is that we should enjoy the things with which we’ve been blessed.  When we spend all of our time focused on what we don’t have or comparing ourselves to those with much, we truly miss out on what God has for us.  I believe that God wants us to live full lives of meaning and gratitude.  Be thankful to God for the things He’s given to you.  Enjoy the blessings He’s provided.  For one day you will be no more and those left behind will enjoy them much more than you ever did.

Ecclesiastes 6:1-6 (NIV)
I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on mankind:God gives some people wealth, possessions and honor, so that they lack nothing their hearts desire, but God does not grant them the ability to enjoy them, and strangers enjoy them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil.
A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded.Though it never saw the sun or knew anything, it has more rest than does that man— even if he lives a thousand years twice over but fails to enjoy his prosperity. Do not all go to the same place?

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