Summary: Why living the "Whoever dies with the most toys" philosophy of life will not satisfy.
Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?
(Christian Survivors; Living Godly in a Godless World)
James 1.9-11 & 5.1-6 January 14, 2001
When down-and-outers get a break, cheer!
And when the arrogant rich are brought down to size, cheer!
Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don¡¦t ever count on it.
You know that as soon as the sun rises,
pouring down its scorching heat, the flower withers.
Its petals wilt and, before you know it, that beautiful face is a barren stem.
Well, that¡¦s a picture of the ¡§prosperous life.¡¨
At the very moment everyone is looking on in admiration,
it fades away to nothing.
The Message: New Testament
The closing statement of Entertainment¡¦s Online website, regarding Survivor II warns:
And thus begins another season. Take cover.
Our contemporary society is characterized by an awful reality that there is a growing gap. The rich get richer, and the poor are getting poorer, and the gap (the middle class workers) are disappearing! A gap between the rich and poor is eternal.
There is an even more disturbing phenomenon ¡V the mentality that¡K You should JUMP THE GAP (from poor to rich) at ANY cost! Survivor mentality ¡V do whatever it takes ¡V win the big bucks ¡V is all about jumping the gap.
It is even so in the church. A modern day TV personality, Creflo Dollar is a prosperity preacher. He maintains that it is every believer¡¦s right and destiny to be rich (his name alone conveys quite a picture-message!)
Dollar ¡Kgives some tips to help people determine if they have the spirit of prosperity. First of all, ¡§you don¡¦t settle for anything less than the best.¡¨ You also will support those who support prosperity¡¨ (Dollar, www.worldchangers.org/wealth_t5.htm).
(¡¥Nother words ¡V keep those cards, letters and donations coming!)
While the Bible never condemns wealth or being prosperous, it presents quite a different perspective from that of Mr. Dollar. Scripture condemns the heart preoccupied with wealth:
For the love of money is the root of all evil;
1 Ti 6.10a KJV
The reality is that wealth may be a test of faith, not a proof of faith. In chapter 5, James returns to the theme of materialism tests. When he refers to rich men, he is identifying those whose hearts stop and start with the rise and fall of the stock market¡Kthose among us who are preoccupied with wealth.
Incidentally ¡V you can fall into that category no matter the balance in your account. James warns those self-serving rich, and the envious poor ¡V and everyone in-between. We can all have dollar-signs blinding our Christian walk.
James gives us some spiritual stabilizers against the waves of economic tides.
The Results of Materialism in a Believer¡¦s Life
(What you can expect if you opt for being like Madonna, the material girl)
Result #1. THE CRASH THAT COMES FROM DEPENDING ON THINGS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE MEANINGFUL
However else you care to characterize greed, it is just that. James compares the prosperity of having things to the life span of wildflowers. They are beautiful, but their reign is short-lived.
Materialism is the desire to get things ¡V material, position, power, recognition. It is the desire to gain, no matter what you have to do to accomplish your goals.
In a Scottish cemetery, the story goes, the following epitaph appears on a new tombstone:
Here lies Hamish McTavish,
Whose deeply sorrowing widow continues
To carry on his flourishing greengrocery business
At 11 High Street
Open daily until 8:oo
Michael Donahue is founder of an Internet business. He saw his stake rise to $448 million ¡Kin August 1999. He then did what many red-blooded Americans would have done: He splurged, big time.
Mr. Donahue bought a $9.6 million second home in Palm Beach, Florida. A polo enthusiast, he ponied up $100,000 to help sponsor his team in Florida. He spent a bundle more sharing the rental of a Hawker Sidley private jet, the better to whisk off to Palm Beach on weekend jaunts with his wife. It was a lifestyle thing, he explains.
Today, Mr. Donahue is a member of another club-call it the 90 percent club-of executives whose companies¡¦ stock price has fallen that much or more from their peak. The value of his InterWorld stock has plunged ¡Kto $2.94 from a peak of $93.50 on December 31. (Lost 436 million!)
He was asked to repay part of a $14 million loan he took out with his InterWorld stock as collateral. And the Palm Beach house? To help satisfy his lenders, he has put it on the market for more than $13 million. Going up was easy. But when it starts going down, no one wants to talk to you, he says¡K
At least he has plenty of fellow sufferers. ¡K eToys Inc., Webvan Group, and Priceline.com Inc¡Kaccording to market trackers .¡KLike so many Humpty Dumptys, executives of those companies have had a truly great fall, with the combined losses of the largest shareholder at each company adding up to about $14 billion. There is always a crash when it comes to materialism.