Summary: This message challenges us to view people and possessions through the framework of godly values.
Rich Man, Poor Man
The issue of money has been a prominent one from the inception of the church. Jesus spoke a great deal about it himself. Consider this:
o 16 of 38 parables were concerned with money/possessions.
o 1 of 10 verses in the gospels (288) deal directly with money.
o The Bible has 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2000 verses on money/possessions.
Why all this talk about money and possessions? Because Jesus
understood so well the tremendous influence of this issue in our lives. Social research supports the biblical emphasis on the issue of money. Think about these findings from George Barna:
o 50% of Christians consider money to the primary indicator of success.
o 19% of Christians believe you can tell how successful a person is by examining what they own.
James did not miss the emphasis on money and possessions the
teaching of Jesus. We will find that in four different passages James discusses the issue of money and possessions. Today we will consider the first of these passages in James 1:9-11. In this passage, James addresses our attitudes related to wealth and poverty. He challenges us to view people and possessions through Christian eyes that see things through the framework of godly values.
I. A Christian understanding of possessions changes our view of
people (vv. 9-10).
A. The standard view during James¡¦ day was that spiritual
standing was indicated by material standing.
1. The poor were ignored or punished by God and
deserved no special courtesy.
2. The wealthy were blessed by God and should be
3. So, the wealthy were viewed as spiritually blessed
and worthy of special treatment while the poor were
considered spiritually poor and treated poorly.
(see James 2:1-4)
B. Salvation calls for a radically different view of people.
1. The poor man should take pride in his high position.
a. Though he is materially poor, he has become
spiritually rich in Jesus Christ.
b. Though he has no honor in worldly terms,
he is exalted and given dignity in Christ.
2. The rich man should take pride in his low position.
a. Though materially rich, he has been humbled
by the recognition that his riches cannot bring
him eternal life.
b. By humbling himself, the rich man has come
to receive true riches in Christ.
3. Both the rich man and the poor man find their hope
in the spiritual reality of God¡¦s grace in Christ. Their
material standing does not matter.
a. The poor man is not kept from the treasures
heaven by his poverty.
b. The rich man cannot gain the treasures of
heaven by his wealth.
II. A Christian understanding of possessions changes our view of
possessions (vv. 10-11).
A. Possessions and their possessors pass away.
1. James uses the example of the wild flowers which
appear for a time and then are scorched by the arid
winds and die.
2. So it is with possessions and their possessors. They
are here for a very short time and then they are gone.
B. The point is that we cannot place eternal significance on that
which is temporal.
1. Material wealth does not last. We cannot depend on
it to secure eternal blessing.
2. We will die one day and our wealth will be gone. We
cannot depend on that which we cannot take beyond
ILL: There was a man who loved money more than anything. He worked all his life and hoarded as much as he could. Just before he died, he told his wife, ¡§When I die, put all my money in the casket with me. I want to take my money to the afterlife with me.¡¨ She promised him that she would.
At his funeral, just before the undertakers closed the casket, his wife put a box in the casket. The casket was closed and rolled away.
The wife¡¦s friend said, ¡§I know you didn¡¦t put all that money in there with that man. You weren¡¦t foolish enough to do that.¡¨
The wife said, ¡§I promised him I would put the money in the casket.¡¨
¡§You mean to tell me you put that money in the casket with him?¡¨ her friend asked.
¡§Yes¡¨ she said, ¡§I wrote him a check.¡¨
APP: Listen, there is coming a day when all our accumulated wealth is going to be just as good as that check. When the petals of this fragile flower called life have wilted and died, our possessions are going to be of no value to us.
We cannot trust in material things. One man got very upset with his pastor for talking about God¡¦s ownership of all things and the transitory nature of our possessions. The man invited the preacher over to his lavish estate. He walked him through the gardens and woods of the elaborate grounds of the estate. When the tour was complete, he said, ¡§Now, are you going to tell me that all of this land does not belong to me?¡¨ The pastor smiled and said, ¡§Ask me that same questions 100 years from now.¡¨