This past Sunday I visited a new church. My home church is a traditional Southern Baptist, and I love the people who are there…I just wanted to try something different. I heard about this new church that was fairly young in my area that is a praise and worship type church, with Baptist affiliation. I found myself being very welcomed in the congregation and truly enjoyed the sermon. But wouldn’t you know the one Sunday I visit, the subject is money and being rich.
Smack my head. Every pastor’s nightmare.
The way this pastor preaches, he picks a certain portion of the Bible and goes verse by verse each week. They had been focusing on James 5, and I guess last Sunday was when the dreaded portion of the text arose.
There were many things that stuck out to me during the sermon, but the opening statement really grabbed me. Pastor Daylon said, “When I say the word “rich”, you automatically had someone particular come to mind.” …..true. So very true. As a full-time graduate student, full-time employee at a nonprofit organization, young adult with a car payment and 2 dogs; I know what it’s like to pinch pennies. Although I am not poor by any means, I can definitely think of someone rich and lots of people richer than me. He then went on to say that in reality, Americans today and people in general are ALL “the rich”. We have free access to things today that the majority of kings, queens, and royalty throughout history has never experienced. At the push of a button we can experience hot or cold air, have our waste swept away from out from under us, and clean water; just to name a few. Stop and think about that for a second.
Daylon said, “Having riches is not a sin. It’s what you do with these riches.”
This passage in James is eluding back to the story of the Rich Young Man in Mark 10:17-27.
Having riches is fine, as long as you are willing to give them up if asked and share then with others without being asked.
In America, there is always extra. We throw away so much that could be used. Now some will say, “Oh there are starving children in Africa that would love to have your left-overs.” That’s not what I am saying. I say, “There are starving children in your NEIGHBORHOOD that would love your left-overs.” People, we HAVE to take care of our own before we can spread to other nations. Some focus on the ministry to other countries and shoeboxes to foreign lands. I often wonder, would there be children in Rocky Mount that could use shoeboxes? Although every individual, rich or poor, in this country is still technically rich, could I change their way of life and help them just a little?
The main problems that people fall into with their riches is the need for control of those riches, greed in wanting to keep them, and a lack of generosity to share them with others. If any of these three things is you, you are DEAD in your SIN. Your main concern can NOT be you and your stuff. Food spoils, clothes rot, even metal rusts. If our Lord has blessed you with more than you need, give it away. And while you are giving it away, be sure to let that person know that it is God who has provided for you, and in turn, them. Use that giving opportunity to give away more than stuff. Give away knowledge about Jesus.
It is by no mistake that you are blessed with all you have. There are 3 main reasons that we have riches; to meet your needs, to enjoy, and to give generously. Did you hear that? The Lord blesses you with riches not ONLY to meet your needs, but to please you and for your enjoyment. There is no need to feel guilty about being rich. If you can afford to have nice things, buy them. As long as you leave some to give away. You see? God doesn’t want you to starve in order to feed others. He doesn’t want you to gain riches and lead a miserable life because you give it all away. He wants you to ENJOY what he has blessed you with. Just remember to give. As long as you give, you will continue to receive. God pours himself into our emptiness and will continue to bless you if you do His good works.
God blesses us to increase our standard of living and our standard of GIVING!
No matter how financially rich or poor you are, you have something to give others. What you give to others will return to you ten-fold. Never become naïve to the point that you believe you created the riches for yourself. You can do all things through CHRIST who gives you strength (Phil. 4:13). It is not by your mere will alone that you are blessed with riches.
Be thankful for all you have. Even the smallest things. There have been millions throughout history who did not have such things. There are millions today that still don’t.
YOU are blessed. YOU are rich.
Thank God Almighty for that.