The wrong use of wealth

Rich people – be warned!

MBC August, 5, 2012

WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE THING YOU HAVE IN YOUR WALLET OR PURSE?

What does the Bible say about money?

Jesus talked much about money. Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables were concerned with how to handle money and possessions. In the Gospels, an amazing one out of ten verses (288 in all) deal directly with the subject of money. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions.

— Howard L. Dayton, Jr., Leadership, Vol. 2, no. 2.

See: Lk 7:41-43; Mt 24:45-51; Mt 13:44-46; Lk 15:8-10; Lk 18:10-14; Lk 12:16-21; Lk 16:19-31; Lk 16:1-8; Mt 25:14-30; Mk 12:1-11; Lk 19:12-27; Mt 18:23-35; Mt 20:1-16; Mt 19:16-30

We could spend a great deal of time on different topics, but this week we are going to talk about the misuse of wealth and some wrong attitudes associated with money.

HOW IS SUCCESS GENERALLY MEASURED IN OUR SOCIETY?  Money

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MARKS OF SUCCESS IN OUR COMMUNITY? Big house, big car, big bank account?

There were wealthy people in James’ time.  Some workers only received one denarius a day as wages.  It was reported that one wealthy widow cursed the scribes for only allowing her 400 denarius a day for her luxuries. Funny, times have not changed much since then.

Money can buy medicine, but not health.

   Money can buy a house, but not a home.

   Money can buy companionship, but not friends.

   Money can buy entertainment, but not happiness.

   Money can buy food, but not an appetite.

   Money can buy a bed, but not sleep.

   Money can buy a crucifix, but not a Savior.

   Money can buy the good life, but not eternal life.

   That explains why we are told in the Scriptures that it is God (alone) who is able to supply us “with all things to enjoy.” As Seneca, the Roman statesman once said: “Money has never yet made anyone rich.”

   — Charles Swindoll

IF YOU INHERITED A MILLION DOLLARS, WHAT’S THE FIRST THING YOU WOULD DO?

WHAT WE DO WITH OUR MONEY IS AN INDICATION OF OUR SPIRITUAL CONDITION.  Do you agree or disagree?

William Barclay said of money:

   Money in itself is neither good nor bad; it is simply dangerous in that the love of it may become bad. With money a man can do much good; and with money he can do much evil. With money a man can selfishly serve his own desires; and with money he can generously answer to the cry of his neighbor’s need. With money a man can buy his way to the forbidden things and facilitate the path of wrongdoing; and with money he can make it easier for someone else to live as God meant him to live. Money brings power, and power is always a double-edged thing, for it is powerful to good and powerful to evil.

— From William Barclay’s Letters to Timothy.

God entrusts us with money as a test; for like a toy to the child, it is training for handling things of more value.

— Fred Smith, Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 1.

Let’s see what James has to say with those who misuse wealth.

READ James 5:1-6

IN WHAT WAYS CAN WEALTH BRING MISERY?

   No matter how long a person may live or how rich he may be, money cannot bring him happiness. In his book For Better or For Worse, Walter Maier included this story: “A rich man had committed suicide. In his pockets were found two items: $30,000 in cash and a letter. The letter read in part: ‘I have discovered during my life that piles of money do not bring happiness. I am taking my life because I can no longer stand the solitude and boredom. When I was an ordinary workman in New York, I was happy. Now that I possess millions, I am infinitely sad and prefer death.'”

   “Millionaires who laugh,” said Andrew Carnegie, “are rare.” Sir Ernest Cassel, who spent vast fortunes for the benefit of mankind, a multi-millionaire, the friend of kings and emperors, said to one of his visitors: “You may have all the money in the world, and yet be a lonely, sorrowing man. The light has gone out of my life. I live in this beautiful house, which I have furnished with all the luxury and wonder of art; but, believe me, I no longer value my millions. I sit here for hours every night longing for my beloved daughter.”

These stories are sad, but there is no evidence anything was done to change the individual’s life.  James would have these individuals see the spiritual poverty their wealth had caused them and weep and wail over their condition.  The result, he would hope, would be a change in their life.

WHAT IS JAMES’ POINT IN VERSES 2-3?

The things that were valuable in this time – food, clothing and precious metals – would all eventually become worthless.  In fact, James says that wealth would eventually turn against them.

For many years Hetty Green was called America’s greatest miser. When she died in 1916, she left an estate valued at $100 million, an especially vast fortune for that day. But she was so miserly that she ate cold oatmeal in order to save the expense of heating the water. When her son had a severe leg injury, she took so long trying to find a free clinic to treat him that his leg had to be amputated because of advanced infection. It has been said that she hastened her own death by arguing the merits of skim milk because it was cheaper than whole milk.

No form of wealth could keep one from final judgment.

Dear Ann Landers:

   The letter from the woman married to the tightwad — she couldn’t get an extra quarter out of him — reminded me of my wonderful aunt who was beautifully warmhearted and had a great sense of humor.

   Aunt “Emma” was married to a tightwad who was also a little strange. He made a good salary, but they lived frugally because he insisted on putting 20 percent of his paycheck under the mattress. (The man didn’t trust banks.)  The money, he said, was going to come in handy in their old age.

   When “Uncle Ollie” was 60, he was stricken with cancer. Toward the end, he made Aunt Em promise, in the presence of his brothers, that she would put the money he had stashed away in his coffin so he could buy his way into heaven if he had to.

   They all knew he was a little odd, but this was clearly a crazy request. Aunt Em did promise, however, and assured Uncle Ollie’s brothers that she was a woman of her word and would do as he asked.

   The following morning she took the money (about $26,000) to the bank and deposited it. She then wrote a check and put it in the casket four days later.

This is a true story and our family has laughed about it ever since.

WHAT ARE THE ABUSES THE RICH COMMITTED (VS. 4-6)?

A. Injustices leveled against workers.  Some of us can understand that.

B. Living luxuriously and indulging ourselves.  All of us can understand that

READ Proverbs 28:19

READ Proverbs 13:11

AT FIRST GLANCE WE MAY NOT THINK THAT WE CAN RELATE TO THE WARNING IN THIS PASSAGE.  HOW CAN YOU APPLY IT TO YOUR SITUATION?

READ 1 Timothy 6:17

IN WHAT WAYS MAY YOU HAVE ABUSED THE PROSPERITY GOD HAS GIVEN YOU?

Martin Luther astutely observed, “There are three conversions necessary: the conversion of the heart, mind and the purse.” Of these three, it may well be that we moderns find the conversion of the purse the most difficult.

Get all you can without hurting your soul, your body, or your neighbor. Save all you can, cutting off every needless expense. Give all you can. Be glad to give, and ready to distribute; laying up in store for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that ye may attain eternal life.

   — J. Wesley

HOW CAN THIS GROUP PRAY FOR YOU AS YOU SEEK TO USE YOUR FINANCIAL RESOURCES IN A WAY THAT IS GLORIFYING TO GOD?

Advertisements