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The section of the book of James we are looking at today is all about wealth and riches, but most of us don't feel very rich.
However, most of us want to be "richer". We want a little more than we currently have.
Also, the research tells us that we are richer than we think. If you made $40,000 last year, you are in the top four percent of wage earners in the world. If you made $48,000 you are in the top 1% of wage earners in the world.
Whenever the writers of the Bible talk about “rich people” the writers aren't simply speaking about a dollar amount a person makes, but also about people who are driven by the love of money.
For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
1 Timothy 6:10
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.
James may be referencing a famous teaching from his brother Jesus.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
Rich People Problem #1: Hoarding Feels Normal
James is not condemning wise savings and investments, but is condemning the kind of wasteful hoarding that goes on in our world.
James states that this is particular damaging for believers, because we are living in the "last days" since Christ's resurrection. The "last days" are a new era for human history, where God's Kingdom is reigning, and believers have been called to follow in the footsteps of their King who is always generous, all the time.
Rich people hoard
Kingdom people radically give.
Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.
James is not only speaking to those who employ people, but is asking, "have you ever been dishonest with how much you owe someone?" Have you ever cared more about what you could get from someone than what you could give them?
Rich People Problem #2: Money takes priority over people
Rich people love things, and use people.
But Kingdom people use things to love people.
You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.
James is challenging how those who love money will mindlessly waste their money on their own comfort, rather than using their money to help others.
Rich People Problem #3: Mindlessly Wasting What You Have
The solution to this is to begin tracking what you spend, so you can be mindful of ways that you are wasting your money. www.mint.com is a great resource to track what you spend. You can also download the "Mint" app in the Google Play Store or iTunes app store.
Rich people mindlessly waste resources for their comfort.
Kingdom people creatively leverage their resources for what God wants.
You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.
James is claiming that those who love money have effectively murdered those they chose not to help. Because:
Rich People Problem #4: Forgetting I’m accountable.
Rich people believe “if it came to me, it was meant for me.”
Kingdom people know, “God blesses us to be a blessing to others."
Begin however you can to wisely and generously using what God has given you.
Go to www.mint.com or download the "Mint" app to begin tracking what you spend.
Work off a budget, so you can wisely spend, save, and give.
Work as a family to creatively find ways to cut down on wasteful spending, to give away things that we've hoarded, and find ways to be generous together.
As James says, we are now living in the "last days". God's Kingdom of radical generosity and grace is here, and believers have been called to follow in the footsteps of our generous God.
Read the book of James every week during this series.
Monday - Chapter 1
Tuesday - Chapter 2
Wednesday - Chapter 3
Thursday - Chapter 4
Friday - Chapter 5