Summary: Using stats, parables, and James 1: lesson breaking down the frivolous nature of gaining wealth while we are only visitors waiting for heaven.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY, MONEY…MONEY
James Series 2: Riches
MONEY: The Bible says a lot about money doesn’t it? I know there are people who are not all that excited about hearing about it from church, and in many cases, I understand. But Christ never stopped talking about money, possessions, and how the two impact the lives of people.
THE NUMBERS: 16/38 of Christ’s parables were concerned with money/possessions
Out of 288 gospels, 10% involve money
Bible has 500 verses on prayer, 500 on faith, 2000 on money/possessions
AND IF WE’RE HONEST, WE TALK & THINK MONEY/POSSESSIONS A TON TOO.
GEORGE BARNA: 50% of Christians consider money as primary indicator of success
19% of Christians believe you can judge success by what they own
James understood this too, as 4 times in his message he mentions money also
THE STANDARD: The view during James’ day was as follows: a strong spiritual standing equaled to a life of strong material standing. The wealthy were rich because they were blessed by God. The poor, because they were poor, were ignored.
1. THE POSITION OF THOSE WITH MONEY
BIBLE VERSE: James 1:9-11
9The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.
THE SLAM: James slams the inherent messages of their society. He essentially states:
A) The Poor Man is not kept from his treasures in heaven because of his poverty.
B) The Rich Man cannot gain treasures in heaven through his wealth.
THE WAITING ROOM: I have used this before, but will continue to use it forever (besides, repetition is the best teacher). Picture a doctor’s office, picture the magazines, the quiet nurse, you know, the fish tank. Okay. What if the doctor filled the room with gold statues, had an Egyptian mummy, and served $1000 chocolate mints flown in from France? You’d say what a waste? Or, maybe not, mummies can be pretty cool. But the point is it wouldn’t be a great investment. Not smart.
Folks, we live in a waiting room, everything we do is about waiting. Our whole life is a waiting room. What is the point of working for our whole lives to leave behind a well-decorated room that will decay?
THE WEALTHY MAN STORY: There’s an old pastor story about a rich man challenges the pastor’s Biblical account that everything belongs to God. So the rich man invited the pastor to his house, showed him the mansion, the game room, the giant movie screens, the lavish sculptures, the chandeliers, the giant stuffed chimpanzee in his mother-in-laws room (it’s my story, so in my story, there’s a giant stuffed chimpanzee in the mother-in-laws room). And after the whole tour, the rich man looked at the pastor and asked the pastor, “now, are you going to try to tell me that this doesn’t belong to me?” The pastor smiled and responded, “let me wait 100 years before I give you that answer.”
2. THE EXPECTATIONS OF THOSE WITH AND WITHOUT MONEY
BIBLE VERSE: Read James 1:9-11 again (this will be specifically broken down here).
JUST MY THINKING: This passage doesn’t make any sense. Brother in humble circumstance taking pride in HIGH POSITION? What high position? The one who is rich (notice it doesn’t say brother) should take pride in his LOW POSITION? Since when is a rich man in a low position?
Moreover, even if I understand that a rich man should live like he is in a low position, why should a poor man take pride in a high position? That isn’t humble! Besides isn’t pride bad?
A. LOWLY BROTHER…RICH: Trials make all believers equally dependent on God and bring them to the same level with each other by keeping them from becoming preoccupied with earthly things. Poor Christians and wealthy ones can rejoice that God is no respecter of persons and that they both have the privilege of being identified with Christ.
B. HIS HUMILIATION: Refers to the rich believer’s being brought low by trials. Such experiences help him rejoice and realize that genuine happiness and contentment depend on the true riches of God’s grace, not earthly wealth.
PALESTINE’S FLOWERS: A picture of Palestine’s flowers and flowering grasses, which colorfully flourish in Feb. and dry up by May. This is a clear allusion to Isaiah 40:6–8, which speaks of the scorching sirocco wind that burns and destroys plants in its path. This picture from nature illustrates how divinely wrought death and judgment can quickly end the wealthy person’s dependence on material possessions