Summary: #19 in the series deals with enduring to the end in whatsoever state you find yourself. Your station in life, and your conditions of life, are all in God’s hands. So use them to bring him glory.
19 Enduring to the End
The Book of James Series
By Pastor Jim May
James is still talking about the rich man as he comes to the closing verses of his epistle. There is no hiding of the facts that some people seem to be blessed more than others. There is a general acknowledgement that being rich doesn’t mean that you are blessed, neither does it mean that you are in the center of God’s will if you are poor.
James is only concerned with the attitude and condition of the heart, regardless of which side of the issue you find yourself on. It is the condition of the heart that determines how you look at the riches that another man may have, and then compare that to the lack that you may have.
Benjamin Franklin once said that, “It is the eyes of other people that ruin us. If all but myself were blind, I should want neither a fine house nor fine furniture.” That’s so true. How much more could we enjoy life if we were not trying to impress other people, or compare what they have with what we have.
How often do we feel at least some intimidation around the rich, upper class members of our society? Do we sometimes look at the wealth, influence and station in life of other people and then, like the 10 spies of Israel sent out to check out the Promised Land, we automatically assume that they are bigger, better and/or stronger than we are?
Even if we don’t think of them as bigger, better or stronger, we often find ourselves involved in comparisons, thinking that we are less of a person than they are because they have so much more of this world’s goods.
It is not a sin to be rich, nor is it a sin to be poor. Where sin enters the picture is when we look at someone else with jealousy, greed and envy in our hearts, and we begin to begrudge them for what they have, or who they are.
There is no condemnation of the rich man because of his riches, until those riches destroy his relationship with God. Sin isn’t in the money – it’s in the love of that money.
There is no condemnation of the poor man because of his poverty, until his poverty comes between him and God and he is willing to sell his soul to the devil to get out of his condition. Again, it is the love of money that becomes the sin.
That is the reason then that we see what James says in chapter 5, verse 9, “Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.”
Don’t begrudge your neighbor for the blessings in his life, whether they are of a physical nature or of a spiritual nature. Don’t fret yourself because they have what you don’t have. Don’t put on a front of having a don’t care attitude while on the inside you are envious of him. Most of the time, you won’t have to say anything because your actions toward your brother will prove your true heart and there will be no way to hide it.
Having a begrudging spirit may hurt your neighbor, but it will do much more damage to your own soul.
Two shopkeepers were bitter rivals. Their stores were directly across the street from each other, and they would spend each day keeping track of each other’s business. If one got a customer, he would smile in triumph at his rival. One night an angel appeared to one of the shopkeepers in a dream and said, "I will give you anything you ask, but whatever you receive, your competitor will receive twice as much. Would you be rich? You can be very rich, but he will be twice as wealthy. Do you wish to live a long and healthy life? You can, but his life will be longer and healthier. What is your desire?" The man frowned, thought for a moment, and then said, "Here is my request: Strike me blind in one eye!"
What a fool! He would rather lose an eye than to see his neighbor blessed.
I have seen this same attitude in action on a personal level.
Some years ago I was involved in a business where my “upline” stood to make a percentage of everything I made for myself. All he had to do was sit back and wait for the money to come. He didn’t have to sell anything, talk to anyone or anything else. All he had to do was sit and wait for the blessings to come his way.
But that wasn’t good enough. He begrudged the fact that I was growing faster than he was and getting most of the recognition. In the end, his jealousy destroyed my business, but it also destroyed his income. We both lost in the end because of envy and jealousy.