Sermons

Summary: A case for the way we look at money and how that is tied into our Spiritual Health

Half way through the 1972 movie Cabaret Joel Grey and Lisa Minnelli sing The Money Song. It starts with,

Money makes the world go around

The world go around

The world go around

Money makes the world go around

It makes the world go ’round.

A mark, a yen, a buck, or a pound

A buck or a pound

A buck or a pound

Is all that makes the world go around,

That clinking clanking sound

Can make the world go ’round.1

It is a truth many people believe and live by. In fact, the reason I mention it at the start of this sermon is because my bet is that most of us will be thinking about this section in chapter 5 long after we stop thinking about what James writes just before it.

Wealth is one of those recurring themes we have seen in James. It is here linked with another theme in 4:13-17 which we might summarize as our plans. There are two distinct sections but they are linked to what has gone before as well as to the future work of those who follow Jesus. They are also linked to one another.

They are tied to the past as it counters the selfishness that threatens God’s people. There is a pride we are guilty of when it comes to our time. There is pride involved in our wealth. In fact, this isn’t the first time in this letter James addresses these issues. Past concepts and themes that are recounted here is the warning about being double minded when asking for God’s wisdom. Pride stands in the way, paves the way for wishing people to be warm, and fed when we have the money to make it happen and don’t help. It is toward the end of the letter so we may expect James to become a bit more pointed in his teaching, and he doesn’t disappoint us.

Now Listen! Is how each of these sections begins. This phrase is not unlike the times when your mom or dad used your whole name. James is getting down on our level, staring us right in the eye and using our full names. He has used 10 imperatives just before this and he’s not going to have us walk away and claim, "I didn’t KNOW what you meant."

Did you see the quotation from Jon Bon Jovi before worship? It says, "Plan out your future but do it in pencil." The issue isn’t with planning. Jesus reminds us that someone doesn’t go out and start building a tower before they figure out what it costs. The issue is with the idea that we’ll go and we’ll do such and such.

If you don’t know it by now there are no guarantees in life. Ryan and Renée are dealing with that with a tragic, untimely death of a high school that was very important in their lives. Barbara Sue Manire has a unique tombstone. Her daughter told reporters, "Mom always wanted a parking meter on her grave with the words ’time expired.’ She died exactly on her 64th birthday, so my brother had special stickers made that read: "64 year time limit with a parking meter on it.2

Many of us have done the same over the years. In fact, there are those who often used the phrase deo volente to express "God willing" as they wrote and made plans.

In 1871 Emerson wrote, "Next Friday, you know, my college life begins, Deo volente, and I hope and trust will begin with determined and ardent pursuit of real knowledge..." God willing, recognizes our responsibility and God’s ultimate control. God willing frees us from the anxiety changes bring. God willing opens us to the mid-course corrections that others face with bitterness, screaming, pounding the ground in a tantrum and the like. Instead we can simply believe and rely on God’s presence and goodness as we bend to His will.

Now Listen! Also marks the second section that deals with wealth. If you haven’t heard me say it let me make it clear that the Bible is NOT against wealth. It is against the love of money as a goal and the misuse of it. It is a concept that had been present in Israel since the time of the prophets. In his commentary on Amos, Dr. Hubbard says, "Luxury without conscience, indulgent selfishness without spiritual or moral concerns—that is a passport to judgment."3 Here James paints the same picture. There is a pastor story about a bank that sat next to a church’s graveyard. Painted on the wall of the building was, "You can’t take it with you but you can sleep next to it."

James wants those who are wealthy to understand that money is fleeting. Has anyone lost any money in their investments over the last couple of years? Do you recall the 10% plus interest available on CD’s a decade or so ago? Today a Jumbo, $100,000 5 year CD will net you $19,193.16 if you don’t touch it, that’s 3.5% at e-loan bank.

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