Imagine how revolutionary our faith could be if we were wiser with our wealth?? You’re thinking, “I’m not wealthy!” By measuring it against the rest of the world, most of us would be viewed as being wealthy.
Many people believe that the Bible teaches it’s wrong to be wealthy. They think the Bible says that, “Money is the root of all evil.” It actually states that, “The love of money is the root of all evil!” (1 Tim. 6:10). Big difference.
God is not opposed to wealth. The Bible is filled with people who were very wealthy- Abraham, Job, David, Solomon, Barnabas, Joseph of Arimathea…
GOD WANTS ME TO USE MY WEALTH WISELY!
No “middle class” in the NT. Either very rich or very poor- a “have” or a “have not!” The system caused the rich to get richer and poor to get poorer. And the rich tended to manipulate the poor.
James lashes out at the rich with one of the most negative passages in the NT. He rebukes the “rich” with 4 very specific abuses they were guilty of. Although we may not commit these sins to the same degree, this passage is a healthy warning to us to make sure that no matter how much money we have, we use it wisely.
James 5:1-6 “Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. 2 Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. 3 Your gold and silver have become worthless. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This treasure you have accumulated will stand as evidence against you on the day of judgment. 4 For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The wages you held back cry out against you. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 5 You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and killed innocent people, who do not resist you.”
4 “Abuses” the “Wealthy” can be guilty of…
Accumulation of Wealth (Ja. 5:3) “This treasure you have accumulated will stand as evidence against you on the day of judgment.”
Basically they were “hoarding” their wealth! He’s not talking about savings. He’s talking about getting more and more money simply for the sake of getting more and more money! There’s a big difference between wisely saving and wanton greed! James says it’s not only unwise, it’s sinful, when accumulating becomes the goal of life!
In the NT you accumulated wealth in 3 ways: Food, Clothes, and Precious Metals. James says, (v.2-3) “Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. 3 Your gold and silver have become worthless.”
The POINT? That whatever you accumulate won’t last- it will deteriorate! Wealth is to be used, to be put into circulation; not to be HOARDED! He’s not talking about what you eat or wear everyday, but what you hoard!
Luke 12– Jesus talks about a man who built more and bigger barns to hoard his crops. He didn’t give any of it away. He was selfish with it. And Jesus said, “He was foolish because he died that night!! Jesus said, “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Luke 12:21
Appropriation of Wealth (Ja. 5:4) “For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The wages you held back cry out against you.”
God is not only concerned with what we have but how we use it! James says the rich were making money by not paying their workers. I can actually be guilty of STEALING MONEY in 2 ways:
Not paying my debts! Romans 13:7 “Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.”
Not giving God my tithe! Mal. 3:8 ““Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me.””
Have you seen these “day laborers?” It was like that in the NT- people worked on a daily basis. At the end of the day you got your check. But in NT there was no legal recourse- if the boss didn’t pay you, you didn’t get paid. That’s what James is saying.
James calls it “cheating!” Really it’s “stealing!” And we can “Steal” money by not paying our debts, not tithing, and in many other ways…
Allocation of Money (Ja. 5:5) “You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter.”
James is talking about how we spend money and he says we waste it by SELFISHLY (the key) spending it on ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with buying things for ourselves. This is more about “because I can afford it I’ll buy it.” James says that’s a selfish way to live.
Christmas, one of the holiest days of the year, is just around the corner, and we’ve turned it into the consumer event of the year! In a consumer-driven culture we are told we deserve things, that it’s okay to want things for yourself, to go ahead and treat yourself and buy it no matter what!
James says when we do that we’re just “fattening ourselves for the slaughter!” We’re just indulging and feeding and fattening our selfishness and that’s sin. Rather, we need to allocate, spend our money more wisely by not just using it to meet our own needs but to bless others as well!
Application of Wealth (Ja. 5:6) “You have condemned and killed innocent people, who do not resist you.”
James is talking about influence and not abusing it. Wealth gives us more than buying power it gives us influence, authority, power. Money is influence! Money is used to manipulate, finance agendas, sway the tide on issues. In James’ day and ours, the rich were paying off judges, etc. to get away with their injustices!
God calls us to use wealth to influence for good. In the end, this is all about being a good steward, manager of what God has given you; being faithful, accountable, generous.
James says, “Don’t abuse wealth; don’t be unwise!” Imagine the good that could be accomplished- talk about revolutionary faith!! We could transform the world if we were wiser with our wealth! WHAT DOES THAT LOOK LIKE?
Here’s the PRACTICAL APPLICATION: USING WEALTH WISELY!
Wise Accumulation. Save Faithfully! Prov. 21:20 “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.” Phil. 4:19 “My God shall supply all my needs.”
John D. Rockefeller said, “Save 10%, tithe 10%, and live on 80%!” Wise and transformational use of wealth is to manage it well, save, and know God will meet your needs and bless you beyond them as you put him first!
Wise Appropriation. Make Money Honestly! Prov. 23:4 “Do not wear yourself out to get rich. Have the wisdom to show restraint.” Prov. 14:23 “Hard work brings a profit; mere talk leads to poverty.”
God doesn’t care how much money you make, but how you make it and how you manage it! God approves of work as a means to wealth. But, be wise about it!
Don’t work yourself to death. Don’t work so much it destroys your family. Don’t work so much it defeats other people. Don’t work so much that it debilitates your spiritual life.
Wise Allocation. Spend Money Wisely! Prov. 21:5 “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as sure as haste leads to poverty.” Prov. 27:23 “Riches can disappear fast… so watch your business interests closely.”
Wise spending is all about wise planning! Basically that looks like this: What do I need? What can I give? What do I want I can wait (plan) for? Most important: What does God want me to do?
Wise Application. Give Generously! Prov. 11:24-25 “It is possible to give away and become richer. It is also possible to hold on too tightly and lose everything.” Yes, the generous man shall be richer. By watering others, he waters himself.”
This is a Biblical principle, and eternal one that never changes- “Give and it will be given to you!” There are more promises related to giving in the Bible than any other subject!
Because Revolutionary Faith- what ultimately is transformational personally and what changes the world around us, is being a GIVER. GOD IS A GIVER!
YOU INFLUENCE FOR GOOD WHEN YOU GIVE!
No matter how wealthy we become, we are not financially free until we learn to be a giver, a generous person with our wealth. You are freer, happier, influencing for good when you give!
Did you know the root of the word miserable is “miser”??
There are only two things that are going to last forever: The Word of God and people! When you give generously, you are influencing others for good and you are investing in their lives for eternity!
So BEING WISE WITH MY WEALTH is learning to: Save Faithfully, Make Money Honestly, Spend Wisely, and Give Generously!
Those four things are unconventional in our culture. But when we do those things, it can be transforming for our own lives, our families, our church, our world. It really is REVOLUTIONARY!
RESPONSE: Which one of those four things, maybe 2-3, maybe all four, do you need to start to put into practice?
James 1:5“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”