A blueprint for living out our life of faith
What are our chief concerns in life? Eternal salvation or earthly security? Christ’s righteousness or our own real estate? Peace or investments? Such questions come to mind as James in his blueprint for Christian living speaks about how faith evaluates riches.
Appraise them carefully
Nowhere does Scripture condemn the rich for being rich, but it does warn us of the temptations. Riches can quickly tempt people to make life an insatiable pursuit after possessions and can trick people to shift their trust from God to their wealth. The danger is always there that riches harden our attitudes about God, others, and the value of our possessions.
With vivid words, James warns those who put the wrong value on riches. If they would stop to think for a moment, all their smug satisfaction would evaporate and they would howl in hopeless anguish, for the riches will prove to be a rotting foundation in the coming judgment (James 5:1-3). People who look for no better treasure on earth will be wretched beggars in the day of judgment to come.
In our affluent society, we need James’ warning. We can never hear too often that God values a person not by what he has but by what he is in Christ. Our earthly treasures rot and rust. The angel of death rips them from our grasping fingers as we take our last breath. But the treasures God gives us in Christ abide forever.
Acquire them correctly
Putting the wrong value on riches can lead to wrong ways of acquiring them. Look at the ungodly in our verses. Their harvests were plentiful, but in their greed they cheated the poor workers who labored in their fields. Sadly, the poor cannot offer much resistance against such unjust treatment. On earth their appeals are seldom heard. In heaven, though, the Lord Almighty hears their cries (James 5:4). What he will do, James need not tell us.
James’ words speak to the age-old problem of how much labor should be paid and how much management should profit. They speak to the modern problems of soaring prices, business deals that consider only profit, and fair wages. They speak to you and me. Is wealth so important to us that we fail to see the needs of others? These are questions to ask lest we dismiss James’ words lightly.
Apply them conscientiously
Those who live for riches frequently use them only for themselves. The rich people in our verses lived much like cattle that feed well each day, totally unaware of the slaughter coming. What a vivid picture of people grown fat in mind and spirit, foolishly forgetting the coming judgment.
James wants us to examine carefully how we use what God has entrusted to our care. We dare not forget the physical needs of those around us. Hearts filled with God’s free riches in Christ lead to hands opened freely to others’ needs. Believers see another opportunity. Can there be any better use of God’s blessings than to devote generously to spreading the eternal riches found in Christ?
1. Why is Proverbs 30:8,9 a good prayer for us when evaluating riches?
An abundance of earthly riches can lead to the feeling we don’t need God. The absence of earthly riches can lead to a lack of trust in the Lord. Therefore, it is a good prayer for Christians of all earthly conditions.
2. Why do we need the warning in 1 Timothy 6:9,10 more than ever when we are so prosperous?
The modern world suffers from “affluenza” with its feverish pursuit of earthly treasures. More than ever the “I” fever courses in their veins. Immersed in such a selfish stream, Christians are in danger of swallowing some of its pollution.
3. What do 1 Timothy 6:17,18 and Galatians 6:10 tell us about using the riches that God has given us?
Believers want to remember what heavenly treasures they have in God and his Word. They also want to show their faith in helping the less fortunate, first those in their own midst and then those in the world.
This is an article in a continuing series on the book of James.
Author: Richard Lauersdorf
Volume 108, Number 9
Issue: September 2021
- Psalm 103: When you count your blessings
- Psalm 91: When God lifts you up on his lap
- Psalm 4: When you draw nearer to the end
- Psalm 42: When you ask, “Where is God when I’m hurting?”
- Psalm 32: When you need forgiveness
- Psalm 130: When rocks fall
- Bible study: Freedom in service
- What does this mean for me? Article 6
- Bible study: Spiritual gifts
- What does this mean for me? Article 5
- What does this mean for me? Article 4
- Bible study: Rejoice in your status!
- Bible study: Baptismal blessings
- What does this mean for me? Article 3
- What does this mean for me? Article 2
- Bible study: Gifts of tongues and miraculous healing
- What does this mean for me? Article 1
- Bible study: Jesus is everyone’s Savior
- Bible study: Love one another
- Bible study: Above all things!
- Bible study: The comfort of God’s providence
- The book of James: Waiting for Christ’s return
- Bible study: Precious grace
- The book of James: Active in using prayer
- Bible study: Rewards of grace
- The book of James: Active in showing love
- The book of James: Correctly evaluating riches
- Bible study: What’s going to happen on the Last Day?
- The book of James: Avoiding loveless judging
- Bible study: Interpretation practice
- The book of James: Taming the tongue
- Bible study: The Bible’s attributes
- Bible study: The importance of the family altar
- Bible study: God’s attitude is grace
- Bible study: The Bible’s account of Easter morning
- Bible study: Different types of sin
- Bible study: God’s inspiration
- Bible study: Giving God glory
- Bible study: Judge for yourself
- The book of James: Using the Word of Truth
- Bible study: The need for the Bible and worship
- Bible study: Citizens of two kingdoms
- The book of James: Active in good works
- The book of James: When battling temptation
- Bible study: God cares
- Bible study: God made the world
- The book of James: When facing trials
- Bible study: A loving God saved people from hell
- The book of James: A blueprint for living out our life of faith
- A Bible story just for me: Guilt
- Bible study: God provides victory over death!
- A Bible story just for me: Anxiety
- Bible study: God forgives and refuses to remember our sins
- A Bible story just for me: Grief
- Bible study: God helps those who cannot help themselves
- A Bible story just for me: Depression
- Bible study: God has not grown soft on sin
- Bible study: Only one path leads to God’s presence
- A Bible story just for me: Trauma
- A Bible story just for me
- Bible study: God wants me in heaven
- Bible study: The incarnation of our Lord