Friday, August 13, 2010

August 13, 2010

"Now listen, you rich people," James 5:1

When James addresses "you rich people" it sounds like he assumes they know who they are.
That raises the question, "How do you define 'rich'?"
Are you rich?
Obviously, he was immediately addressing those who possessed material wealth. He was measuring wealth by their bottom line or their net worth.
But is that the best measure of wealth? I think James would say, "No!" He clearly states that material wealth corrodes and can corrupt the who holds it.
The real issue with material possessions is, "Do you own them or do they own you?"
One of the points James is attempting to communicate that it is not wrong to own material wealth but it IS a big problem when wealth owns you! You can have a huge net worth but be poor toward God. Spiritual poverty will rob you of the joy of properly benefiting from your fortune. Your stuff will own you and hold you captive. You will be riddled with guilt, greed, anxiety, insecurity, distrust, and worry. Your personal identity and self-image will be defined by what owns you - or Who owns you. Jesus told a story about a guy who did that and called him a "fool".
Is that how you want your life to be defined? Do you want your life to be measured by what you hoard or by who you help? As the old saying goes, "You can't take it with you." BUT you can send it ahead!
As you invest your time and your talents and your treasure in helping others and serving God, Jesus said you, "lay up treasures in heaven". That sounds good to me!
The road to riches begins here, according to Jesus, "Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:1-12
"Blessed" means "happy" or "complete" or "fulfilled".
Aren't those the things you really want from wealth?
So, who is it in the final analysis who determines who is rich? Your bottom line? You net worth? Or your relationship with God? Is it what you are storing up or is it what you are laying up?