“Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. Your gold and silver are corroded. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This corroded treasure you have hoarded will testify against you on the day of judgment. For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter. You have condemned and killed innocent people, who do not resist you.”
James 5:1-6 NLT
Earthly wealth is but for a time. Money and possessions are, themselves, expendable. Things of this world do not last. Although our lives are like the fog, appearing for a moment and then vanishing, we live our lives as though we will live here forever. We spend our health trying to acquire wealth and then we spend our wealth trying to acquire our health. We can't keep life on an even keel. In the capitalistic society we live in, we are surrounded by those who exploit the market in order to make lots of money. I am a believer in capitalism, not socialism!! I am not opposed to an entrepreneur who crafts an idea and is able to develop it into an opportunity to make money. However, the problem in any society is the heart. Our nations problem isn't capitalism as some liberal professors, people, and politicians may think. The problem is the heart of man. The heart is the most deceitful thing in the world.
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”
Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT
Jesus said that the heart is the issue.
“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.”
Matthew 12:35 NLT
When a man's heart is evil, no matter where he is, or what he does, his life will be corrupt because his heart is perverse.
In a country like ours it is easy to fall prey to the rat race and get entangled in the deceitfulness of riches. Being rich doesn't mean a better life. Yes, money can afford us creature comforts such as houses, lands, extravagant pleasure, and many other things but it can't buy deep down satisfaction. As the late Dr. S. M. Lockridge once said "You can have plenty in your purse and nothing in your person!" Contentment is a choice made in light of what really matters. John D. Rockefeller, one of the wealthiest men in American history, once lamented that he couldn't sleep well at night because he had so much money. I've known many people in my time and most of them had the opposite problem.
Many moguls have risen in the money world and some have become very generous to others. However, true statistics tell us that most very wealthy people are self indulged individuals. Many make money at the expense of those who labor beneath them. Laborers should be thankful for employment and work hard for their employer (see Colossians 3:23). However, employers should also look after the needs of their workers (needs, not greeds)!
“As workers who tend a fig tree are allowed to eat the fruit, so workers who protect their employer’s interests will be rewarded.”
Proverbs 27:18 NLT
Greed is a heart issue. Many rich people are very discontent with life. They own beach houses, yachts, mountain resorts, etc. and still search for meaning. Consider lottery winners. Most lottery winners lead a much more difficult life after the winning than before. Sudden riches are corrupting.
“But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.”
1 Timothy 6:9-10 NLT
To some, life's most important pursuit is having more money. Now there is nothing wrong with hard work, responsible living, and prosperity as long it is done in the light of a biblical worldview. We must never lose sight of whose we are and why He has blessed us. Instead of assuming that we should buy a bigger house because we can afford it, why not seek God about how He would want us to use the overflow of resources. Perhaps there is someone who needs our help, a missionary to support, a ministry to bless, etc. Instead of living for ourselves we should be living with others in mind.
“...‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Matthew 22:39 NLT
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
Philippians 2:4 NLT
What we have is not what measures our lives. Jesus said this:
“..Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”
Luke 12:15 NLT
What we give away is much more blessed.
“And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’" Acts 20:35 NLT
Money, wealth, and accumulated stuff are just passing things that are to be utilized in our hands as stewards. We must recognize that we are managers, not owners, of what we have received. God will hold us accountable for what He has entrusted to us. Therefore, we MUST consider our resources of time, treasure, and talent as a responsibility to God! When we use our wealth to help others, God is pleased!
Now let me be abundantly clear here. We are NOT to reward the lazy, slothful irresponsibility of others. We are to assess the lifestyle choices of others and make appropriate decisions accordingly. Nowhere in scripture does it command us to help the irresponsible but it does command us to show mercy and help those in legitimate need. Some people are poor because of "poor" choices and an irresponsible lifestyle. Others are poor because of circumstances beyond their ability to overcome by themselves. Sometimes a hand up is all someone needs to gain footing and get a new start. We are, most certainly, NOT to give hand outs. Giving handouts to an irresponsible person is like throwing money to the wind. We cannot enable unrighteousness!!
Paul, the apostle, said this under the Holy Spirit's inspiration:
“Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.”
2 Thessalonians 3:10 NLT
The U. S. Government could save an incredible amount of money if they abided by this truth. We must not reward lazy, unrighteous conduct.
We must work hard, enjoy its benefits, and be conscientious of those around us. We are a part of something much greater than ourselves. We are part of Gods world. True riches are eternal and pay eternal dividends. What are you doing with what God has given you??
Rev. Curtis Norris