Monday, April 03, 2006

James 1:9-12 (Focus on the eternal vs. the earthly)

James 1:9-12 But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; [10] and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. [11] For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away. [12] Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

I do not believe verses 10-11 are written to rich believers as some do. Instead, I think James is simply pointing out what is going to happen to the rich oppressors of the poor and persecuted believers. James is saying the rich man maybe enjoying life now but humiliation is coming! Why because he has failed to recognize that everything in this life is temporary. Folks, the only things in this life that are not temporary are a man’s relationship with God and his relationships with other believers!

Jesus parable of the rich man illustrates the foolishness of focusing on the temporal in Luke 12:13-21. Someone in the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." [14] But He said to him, "Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?" [15] Then He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions." [16] And He told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man was very productive. [17] "And he began reasoning to himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?' [18] "Then he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. [19] 'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry." ' [20] "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?' [21] "So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." Notice also Luke 12:33-34 "Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. [34] "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Does God have a problem with rich people? No, not at all, Abraham and Job were both very wealthy! What angers God is when His people have the wrong attitude towards wealth. The Apostle Paul advised Timothy on how to instruct to wealthy Christians in 1 Tim. 6:17-19. Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. [18] Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, [19] storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

What’s the point? Wise Christians keep their focus on the eternal rather than the earthly. If God blesses you with earthly riches invest them in eternal treasures! God will hold each of us accountable for how we have used His resources. Remember, you can not earn your way to heaven folks. Salvation is a free gift. But you will be held accountable for what you have done with the gifts and blessings connected to it! Paul says we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account of our lives. Those who have been faithful will be rewarded and the unfaithful will suffer loss!

Some of you maybe thinking these truths do not apply to you because you do not consider yourself wealthy. By biblical standards and by comparison to the rest of the world, nearly every American is rich!

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