Summary: God's word has much to say about being "wealthy." This message reminds us about 'some' of what God has to say.
God’s Word to the Rich
* Believe it or not, it is not a sin to be rich. However, we need to recognize two truths; First, when compared to this world we are ‘rich’ and next, because scripture has so much to say on the subject, we need to pay attention to this text. Let’s face it, when we read text about the rich, in America, our attention goes to money.
* Money is both neutral and needed. Money is needed because it is the currency of the culture whereby we survive. In Bible days there were the really rich, penniless poor, and few existed in between. The very reason the church took care of the widows was not because they had little but because they had nothing. Today, we see that money is needed.
* At the same time, money alone is neither good nor bad. Some would have us believe that ‘money is the root of all evil’, yet that cannot be supported in the Bible. In fact Proverbs 10:22 says, “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He (God) adds no sorrow to it.” (KJV) God does not speak out against people who have money just because they have it; the issue is much deeper than that.
* However, it is clear in scripture that the rich person has some obstacle to overcome to become a spiritual person. Let’s take the words we have just read and work backwards through the passage to hear this word to the rich.
1. The Wickedness of the Rich – When I read verses 4-6, this wickedness jumps out at me because it ends up with condemning and murdering a righteous man.
* This immediately speaks of the danger of being rich. It has been said that money talks! One comedian said, “Money talks to me alright, and always says the same thing. GOOD-BYE!”
* A.W.Tozer said: “Does it say, “Get me any way you can, even if it is exploitation?” Does it say, “Hold me tight, keep me clutch me?” If so you of all people are most miserable. Does your money say, “Spend me on yourself and no one else?” If so, it has become your master. Or does it say, “Give me away to others in the service of Jesus?” If so, you know the peace and joy that can only come from Jesus.”
* From the words of Jesus we know the “Eye of the needle principle” tells us that rich people have a difficult time getting to heaven. This is because riches, wealth, or money have a way of making us wicked. See how this happens;
a. Wickedness comes from How You Get It – When I read verse 4, I think of the word injustice or dishonesty. It is a sad time when one becomes rich by this world standard by the mistreatment of others. Whether employees, family, friends, or others. To do this will cause a great outcry like the scripture speaks like the blood of Abel. Genesis 4:10, “And He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.’” The outcry of the poor, the cheated, and the abused, always reaches the ears of the Father. He hears, He sees, & He responds.
b. Wickedness comes from How You Use It – To read verse 5 is to see the word “indulgence” and this is THE WORD for our culture today. We indulge ourselves.
* We do so because we have the idea that we deserve it. James talks about us living luxuriously which reminds us of Haggai’s words which we read last week. “Is it a time for you to live in luxurious houses while my work lies in ruins?” When we choose to live for ourselves and spent it only on ourselves, according to God’s word, we are readying ourselves for the Day of Judgment! Solomon said, “I have done everything under the sun for myself and then I look and it brought no profit.” Here’s the snippet; whatever we have, as God’s redeemed children, are to be used for His purposes, His Kingdom, and His work. Candidly, we can carry this truth until it is harmful, but how we use what we have determines our status before Him.
c. Wickedness comes from How You View It – Scripture does not say that ‘money is the root of all evil’ but rather ‘The LOVE of money is.” Let me offer 3 quick laws which I learned from Dr. Johnny Hunt which help us understand why our personal view of money and wealth can become wicked.
* The Law of Clarification – Psalms 24:1 tells us, “It all belongs to God.”
* The Law of Circulation – In God’s economy the earth had one theme, “GIVE”. In Genesis the sun gave, the earth gave, animals gave, man gave, & even trees gave. In Satan’s economy, we see a new concept, “get.” Man became greedy.