Summary: Wealth is neither good nor bad. It is how we use it that matters. James gives a strict warning to the wealthy on dealing with their priorities in their riches and their abuses of people.
1. Several guys were in the locker room of a private exercise club. They were all talking when a cell phone lying on the bench rang. One man picked it up without hesitation, and the following conversation ensued:
"Honey, It’s me."
"Oh, hi dear!"
"I’m at the mall two blocks from the club. I saw a beautiful mink coat. It is absolutely gorgeous! Can I buy it? It’s only $1,500."
"Well, okay, if you like it that much."
"Thanks! Oh, and I also stopped by the Mercedes dealership and saw the new models. I saw one I really liked. I spoke with the salesman, and he gave me a great price."
"Okay, but for that price I want it with all the options."
"Great! But before we hang up, there’s something else. It might seem like a lot, but, well, I stopped by to see the real estate agent this morning, and I saw the house we had looked at last year. It’s on sale!
Remember? It’s the beachfront property with the pool and the English garden?"
"How much are they asking?"
"It’s only $450,000! It’s really quite a bargain, and we have that much in the bank accounts to cover it."
"Well then, go ahead and buy it, but make an offer for only $420,000, okay?"
"Okay, sweetie, thanks! I’ll see you later! I love you!"
"I love you, too." At that the man hung up the cell phone, closed the flap, and raised it in the air. "Does anyone know whose cell phone this is?"
2. There isn’t a subject on the planet that will get folks more worked up than talking about money. People are very passionate about their material possessions, and when you start to get close to someone’s wallet you are getting very close to their heart.
3. One evening a husband was balancing the checkbook and said to his wife, “You know the old saying, ‘money talks’? Well, ours just said, ’Good-bye!’”
4. James 5.1-6
5. Wrongs in Riches:
I. We Can Wrong Self (1-3)
1. Money for Security
2. Money for Joy
H. Ross Perot in Fortune Magazine, “Remember, if you get real lucky, if you make a lot of money, if you go out and buy a lot of stuff –it’s gonna break. You got your biggest, fanciest mansion in the world. It has air conditioning. It’s got a pool. Just think of all the pumps that are going to go out. Or go to a yacht basin in any place in the world. Nobody is smiling, and I’ll tell you why. Something broke that morning. The generator’s out; the microwave doesn’t work…Things just don’t mean happiness.”
3. Misery of Wealth
Brad Pitt said in an interview for the Rolling Stone, “Once you got everything, then you’re just left with yourself…it doesn’t help you sleep any better,, and you don’t wake up any better because of it.
a. Wealth was displayed in: Food (Herod and John Baptist); Clothes (Rich Man and Lazarus); Spending (Herod’s building Projects)
b. Fleeting – gold corrodes; spoiled food; clothes rot;
One day, a housework-challenged husband decided to wash his sweatshirt. Seconds after he stepped into the laundry room, he shouted to his wife, "What setting do I use on the washing machine?" "It depends," she replied. "What does it say on your shirt?" He yelled back, "Texas A & M."
4. Money is America’s main Idol – Christians are not immune
Whoever trusts in his riches will fall,
but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf. Proverbs 11.28
Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
1. Weep – as Peter’s weeping bitterly in Luke 22.62
2. Wail – coming judgment – Wail, for the day of the LORD is near;
as destruction from the Almighty it will come! Isaiah 13.6
3. Woes – Luke 6.24-25
24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
4. To insensitive, self-centered rich believers – not all wealthy believers are bad
According to Forbes’ richest list, 72 year old Carlos Slim Helu and family from Mexico are the richest people in the world at $69 Billion, which he made from a company called Telecom. CEO of Microsoft, Bill Gates is still number two and very rich with $61 Billion. 81 year old Warren Buffet is third at $44. He’s a self-made billionaire. Is he a wicked rich person? I don’t think so. Slim was born in Mexico City, Mexico in 1940 to Maronite Christian parents. I think he considers himself to be a Christian, that is, a Maronite Christian. What’s that? Maronites are part of the Catholic Church. It traces its heritage back to the community founded by Maron, a 4th-century Syriac monk venerated as a saint. If he truly believes in Jesus as the Son of God then he’s not a bad guy!