Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. Your gold and silver are corroded. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This corroded treasure you have hoarded will testify against you on the day of judgment. For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter. You have condemned and killed innocent people, who do not resist you. James 5:1-6 (NLT)
The Message NT translates that last phrase a fatter than usual corpse. It’s James’ way of describing the not-so-wonderful transformation that can happen to you, when your preoccupation in life is on material things.
Two businessmen, vacationing at Miami Beach, were comparing notes.
I’m here on insurance money, one said. I collected $500,000 for fire damage.
Me too, the other replied. But I got $1,000,000 for flood damage.
After a long pause, the first man asked, Tell me, how do you start a flood?[ii]
Let’s remember the distinction here about money, or things. Money has no spiritual characteristics, no morality; there is nothing intrinsically negative or positive about money.
James is not saying it is a sin to be rich. That’s just a matter of how much money you have. Rather, James wants us to see that the potential for spiritual problems is the relationship or attitude one bears towards money – his own, or that which his neighbor possesses (and he wants).
That is what gives money its power to become a god. In Paul’s first letter to Timothy the apostle said:
…the love of money is the root of all evil:
1 Timothy 6:10a(NLT)
The love of money is materialism; when things become gods. It’s what you DO with money that is at the foot of a saint or a sinner.
The Medicine for Materialism
James is really specific. He tells us what to do.
#1. If you’re poor, have Patience
Jesus is the Master Gardener, and he knows when the time will be ripe to settle everything.
We are not to grow impatient with the way He handles things. Simply be faithful with whatever He places in your hand; after all, if He owns it all, He can decide where it goes.
#2. If you’re well-blessed, be Generous
If God has placed material resources in your hand, a lot or a little, the faithful response is what, Lord? What shall I do with this to be your faithful child?
This is a good reminder – things are NOT gods; we USE things in a faithful way to bless our God.
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[ii] Joe McCarthy in The American Weekly, as quoted in Reader’s Digest