Summary: Moral wisdom and instruction about our money: get the right perspective, wealth is a passing, lowly, risky and received thing, get the right response, and get the right outcome.
Being Jesus to the Under-resourced
In 2015, over 290,000 people in Tarrant County lived in poverty income: $23,850 for a family of four 1/3 of Hispanic and African American children live in poverty in Tarrant county; in Arlington the percentage is 19%.
This in a city, and a county and a state with almost record low unemployment… and in the richest country in the world.
When you step outside the U.S., the problem of poverty takes on tragic proportions. Children in Haiti, Central America, parts of Africa and Asia.
With a few possible exceptions, everyone listening to my voice this morning is wealthy compared to much, if not most of the world. Now, you may not consider yourself wealthy, but when you travel to Nairobi (pic) like I have and seen the largest slum in the world, or you travel to India (pic) and see the rampant poverty or even to our own Plan del Pino campus in El Salvador (pic), you realize quickly how even the most modest income families here at Rush Creek are wealthy compared to them.
So what should be our response to this need? We say in our vision statement that we want to become more like Jesus so that we can be Jesus to the overwhelmed and under-resourced. We believe deeply that Christ-followers should be involved in relieving suffering. And here we are with much more money and wealth than most of the rest of the world.
Three morsels of wisdom and instruction about our money:
1. Get the right perspective v.17
I chose that word perspective for a reason. Perspective is a point of view. If I look at a (help me think of an object) from this direction (pic), I see it one way. If I look at it from this direction (pic), I see it another way. Perspective is everything…
What is your perspective about money? I can tell you that prevailing American perspectives are fairly temporal: get all you can, spend all you can, or conversely, hoard what you can. But what is the biblical perspective on money?
What is the right perspective about our money?
a. Wealth is a passing thing Notice v.17 Instruct those who are rich in the present age” 17a That phrase present age refers to the “now age”; the world that is now but will not be for long. I don’t know how long this world has been here and I don’t know how long this world will continue to be. But what I do know is that this world has a limited duration—and relative to eternity, is just a flash of light. (use magic fire paper)
The wrong perspective is to think that your wealth and how you invest it in this world is a long-term investment. In the scheme of eternity, it only lasts a brief moment.
b. Wealth is a lowly thing Notice what God says after that, “ Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant.” Arrogant is a strong word isn’t it? It means to have arrogance: an exaggerated view of your own worth, importance or abilities. There is something about money and the privileges it gives us that causes us to gain an exaggerated view of our importance.
I was reading in the book of James a few weeks ago and this passage jumped out at me: “The brother of humble circumstances should boast in his exaltation, 10 but the one who is rich should boast in his humiliation because he will pass away like a flower of the field. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and dries up the grass; its flower falls off, and its beautiful appearance is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will wither away while pursuing his activities.” James 1:9-11
Well, we don’t have time to dig down into that passage very deep, but what stuck out to me was how upside down our values are. We think that people with money are of higher value; but God—and He states this over and over again in the Old and New Testaments—God values those who have lower income. There is something about having money that overinflates our worth and importance.
c. Wealth is a risky thing v.17 again, “Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth.”
We need to be careful about our investments of time and money. One guy from Australia recently lost all of his $3M investing in a risky get rich scheme in the silver industry.