Summary: Introductory Considerations 1 .
1 . "It can master you or you can master it". These words are given by a bank in a TV commercial. Money rather than letting it control you the suggestion is that by banking with them you will control you.
2. This evening James says to us - "it can master you or you can master it".
3. But rather than advising us as to where we should bank, James offers us some simple insights as to how Christians should approach money and their financial status.
4. James is talking about being mature Christians, about dealing with trials and temptations. Perhaps no area in our lives affects us, tempts us, troubles us, more than money.
5. We live in a society where money speaks, where money is the driving force of all decisions that are made. Money is what enables us to get the things we need or want. Money is what most people strive for. We think it is money that will make us happy. We may all have a secret longing to be rich.
6. Yet as Benjamin Franklin once wrote, "Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature that creates happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of its filling a vacuum, it makes one. If it satisfies one want, it it doubles and triples that want another way."
7. John D. Rockefeller Jr. wrote "The poorest man I know is the man who has nothing but money".
8. Robert Horton sais that the greatest lesson he learned from life is that "people who set their minds and hearts on money are equally disappointed whether they get it or whether they don’t".
1. Lets see what James has to say.
2. First he speaks of the brother in humble circumstances - the one who is in want or is poor.
a. Many believers were poor when they received Christ and many stayed that way throughout their lives. How would they have looked at those with money? Would they have been jealous or envious?
b. James tells them to take pride or we could say that should rejoice in their high position. The world might not look up to them - their position in society would surely not be very high.
c. Jesus said to the church in Smyrna " I know your afflictions and your poverty--yet you are rich!" and Paul says in Eph 1:18. "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,"
d. We have a high position with Christ which is much greater or higher than an earthly high position. That is why we can rejoice- for those who have this position are truly rich.
e. Paul: Phil 4:11-13 "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
f. The trial of poverty is being unhappy and envious.
3. Then James speaks to those who are rich.
a. These people may be rich but James says that they should take pride or rejoice in their low position.
b. Remember James is talking to "the one" who is rich and he is still talking to brothers or believers. James is not saying that they are wrong in being rich.. We can think of many whom God gave riches to in the Bible - Abraham, Solomon - even Barnabas was a wealthy real estate man in Jerusalem. We know that because he sold some of his land to help those in need. In fact God promised the ability to produce wealth to Israel if they would obey Him (Deut. 8:18).
c. The danger of wealth is that we start to depend on our wealth. We rely on it for our security and our happiness.
d. What those he mean by low position? There are various opinions. Each has some merit
i. One says that since we are talking about trials, James means that the rich are brought low by persecution and sufferings for Christ’s sake. Phil 1:29 "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,"
ii. Some say that a proper perspective of wealth makes one feel low. As James says, wealth passes by. It is like a beautiful flower whose beauty disappears under the sudden hot sun. Our very life itself disappears - as James says the rich man, not his wealth will fade away. To have proper perspective of self is to know how low our lives are in comparison to God, no matter how much we have.