It is hard for us to believe that wealth can cause misery.
Childish logic –
Rich are blessed by God; Poor are neglected by God.
Rich are wicked people; Poor are honest people.
This week, Oxfam reported that 85 billionaires control as much money as ½ of the population of the world.
- This is the new crisis that the President of the United States wants to address.
- If this is not addressed, the alarmists are warning that societal breakdown will occur.
- There must be a worldwide taxation on those who have more money than everybody else.
- This is the moral cry for redistribution.
- The War on Poverty is fast becoming the War on Wealth.
I’d be curious to find out what percentage of workers earn less the $7.25 per hour world-wide. I am guessing that over half of the working population of the world would consider that to be a professional’s salary.
Two types of Miserable people today …
- Drowning in Money –
- Drowning in Envy – 1 Tim 6:9 – “They that WILL be rich…”
During his State of the Union address, President Obama has indicated that he will cry out against the immorality of the “income-gap” in the United States.
Sounding increasingly like the French Revolution rather than the American Revolution.
Those who agree with the President decry that people drowning in debt are being tormented by their banks.
Losing their homes
College students without ability to pay for their degrees.
They resent the fact that some who are well-off can hoard their money instead of sharing it, or at least spending it.
The Wealthy cry out against the childishness of those who believe they are “entitled” to more.
- They insist that WEALTH is spelled WORK
- Income inequality is not injustice
- Poverty is not increased by the success of others;
- Raising wages without raising production creates inflation.
The Bible has the answers – although neither side wishes to listen.
- Fact: There are rich people whom God holds in contempt – James 5:1-6
- Fact: But there are also contemptible poor people (1Tim 6:5-9)
No wonder Marx considered Christianity to be an opiate of the people.
Riches might get the respect of simple people, but it does not get the respect of God – James 5:1 – “Go to now, …”
The first three words translate the Greek Word AGE. The only other place this word appears in the Bible is Jame 4:13.
It is like the words “Lo!” or “Behold!” It cries out for attention.
However, it lacks the politeness of these cries. “Come on!” would translate it; “Hey, you!” would paraphrase it. There is a disdain implied for the audience that is implied in this introduction.
Let us go back to the time of James:
Preacher James is called to the home where the farmer has been taken ill. God’s people tend the field and prepare meals. James and the deacons are caring for the sick.
Suddenly, the ten-year-old springs into the house a gleefully announces, “A CARAVAN – A Rich man. He is tossing silver coins.”
James steps into the doorway and watches as the beggars of the land cry out for mercy from one who sits atop a camel, covered by an awning. He deliberately reaches into his sack of coins, pinches 3 or 4 coins, and flings them into the street (like candy in a parade). The beggars scramble, and the strongest of them push others aside, grasp the dusty coins, and gaze upon their new gained wealth.
The rich man throws a few coins in the direction of the preacher, but James does not bow down. Others scramble by his feet to lay hold of their treasure.
James begins to boil inside. He raises his fingers to his lips. A shrill whistle fills the air. Then James cries out with scorn, “Hey, you!” The caravan servants freeze and look at the preacher. “Not you.” He shouts at the slaves. He gazes atop the camel and looks at the man draped in luxury. “I’m talking to YOU!”
The rich man looks down upon James, “Is there something wrong Preacher?”
“Yes, sir. There is. Kindly take your parade elsewhere.”
“Surely you cannot be serious. I am merely showing my love for my neighbor as the Scriptures command.”
“No, sir! That is NOT what you are doing. You are giving out alms so that you might be seen and praised by men. If you want to see true love, enter this house and see people who give of their poverty in the name of their Savior.”
“You are just jealous. There is more money in this sack than in this entire town. I have been given great wealth by God. You are poor and weak. Why don’t you just get out of the way and let me serve God?”
“Because it is not God you serve. You serve yourself and money has become your idol.”
Why should one who has “arrived” weep and wail over Wealth?
I. Wealth Is Insecure - 2-3a
–A. Measure of Material Wealth
- Food - Are the Barns Full?
- Wardrobe - Are the Closets Full?
- Gold & Silver - Is the Mattress Full?
- Big Plans – Wait Until Retirement
–B. The Law of Decay
- Food will spoil without use.
- Clothes will rot without use.
- Value will deflate without use.
40 years ago, $40,000 paid for schooling for a Doctor
Imagine purchasing brand new Lexus for my grandson (3 years old). I park it on a cement slab in my back yard. Each time he visits, I tell him that when he gets his driver’s license, he can have it.
Will it be in perfect, new condition in 13 years or will it suffer decay even though it is not used?
- The Body will weaken without purpose – Fattened Cattle ready for slaughter (v.5)
- Possession that are truly valuable will be targeted by thieves
II. Wealth Is Inhumane - 4-6
–A. Oppression v. 4
- People become tools instead of neighbors
- Viewing People as Property
- Withholding what is right
–B. Self-indulgence v.5
Many years ago a major American company had trouble keeping employees working in their assembly plant in Panama. The laborers lived in a generally agrarian, barter economy, but the company paid them in cash. Since the average employee had more cash after a week’s work than he had ever seen, he would periodically quit working, satisfied with what he had made.
What was the solution? Company executives gave all their employees a Sears catalog. No one quit then, because they all wanted the previously undreamed-of things they saw in that book. (Green – Illustrations for Biblical Preaching)
–C. Lying and Murder v.6
- People use “legal” means to extort money from their neighbor.
Dickens and Scrooge
- People abuse those who are meek and assume that they are getting away with it
III. Wealth Is Ignorant of Eternity - 3b
-A. 98% of the self-righteous lower class is consumed with envy and jealousy over what the other 2% have.
The devil has convinced many that they can exclude the wealthy from the command to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
-B. The Secret Satanic Purpose
---1. Endless Buffet - Imagine the delight of livestock when the feed comes. Do they ever doubt the charity of the farmer?
---2. Reality – Fattened for Slaughter
---3. The Sacrifices Wealth Demands – Luke 15:11ff.
- Sacrifice Relationship with God
- Sacrifice Relationship with family
- Like Prodigal – Find the friends who share the values of “riotous living”
One Day, they discover the pig pen.
–C. An Investment into an uncertain future.
Matt 6:20 (KJS) But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
–D. An Investment into a certain future.
- Death is Certain.
- Eternity is Certain.
- Hell or Heaven is Certain.
Mark 8:36 (KJS) For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Illus. of Pastor asked to view the estate of wealthy person. "All this plus heaven would be grand. But all this without heaven would be supreme misery.