The Gospel for Real Life

Rich or Poor – There Is So Much More!

This past Sunday, I preached from James 1:9-11.  In essence, this passages teaches us that there is more to be had that financial status.  The rich ought to not glory in their status as being rich and the poor ought to not think they’re less human simply because their poor.  Instead, both should rejoice in their heavenly status.  The rich should rejoice in their low status as slaves of Christ (which is really their salvation).  And, the poor should exalt in their high position in Christ (which is far greater than riches).

There are a couple of truths I want to point out regarding this passage:

1) This passage does not mean that the poor should just stay poor and that they are not in need of help.  This would be a wrong application of these verses, and James will get to that in the following chapters.  God is very concerned for the poor, and we ought to be as well.

2) This does not mean that the rich should hoarde their money.  Instead, the rich should realize their wealth does not save, and those in Christ should give more freely!  Again, James will pick up on these topics in the coming chapters.

3) How we spend our money (or view our monetary status) can reveal whether or not we truly love God or simply love the passing things of this world.  The is just one way we can see whether we’re buying into the mindset of the “double-souled” person.

4) Eternity is wonderful beyond our comprehension.  James says that the things of this earth pass away quickly.  Yet, we many times stand in awe of the things we see around us.  To me, that speaks to the everlasting beauty of eternity.  If you have trusted in the LORD – and you are a slave of God and the Lord Jesus Christ – you can look forward to a glorious future!

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6 responses

  1. Since WE belong to Him (identity in life) and EVERYTHING is His (gift for ministry) and we are following Him and His lead in ALL THINGS, every choice we make should, first and foremost, begin with the question; “God, what do you want me to do with this right now?”
    Hey… just sayin’… His glory is in each moment of the journey; we either see it and we purposefully, hilariously enagage in it, or we miss it and the glory and what He is doing!

    August 25, 2011 at 4:53 pm

  2. Thanks for posting – was this because of the shout-out I gave you on my blog this week? (http://gwenreadsomething.blogspot.com/2011/08/exodus-god-takes-sides-part-2-book.html) 🙂

    Maybe you can flesh out #3 a little more for me – people who have no money to spend or any monetary status to speak of – those who are truly poor, not American lower middle class or even lower class, those who are just trying to survive (literally) – how do they fit in to that picture? And for #4, how do we really communicate to someone who has nothing at all, who can’t feed their children or themselves on any reliably consistent basis, what awaits them in eternity, especially if they’re not already well-versed in that framework?

    August 25, 2011 at 5:10 pm

  3. Regarding James 1:9-11 – He’s speaking in this portion from an eternal perspective. He will get to the immediate applications of all of this in the end of chapter 1 and beyond. But, at this point, he’s dealing with the ultimate realities of eternity.

    The rich and poor look to temporal things for ultimate satisfaction. James says that’s a sign of not truly knowing God.

    With regards to #4 – I think that’s dealt with at the end of chapter 1 and then moving on into chapter 2 and following. You have to have works that coincide with this belief.

    If you believe that eternal life is ultimate and we should live for that, then we should be very concerned about this life and ensuring that people see God’s goodness so that they will be drawn to Him.

    August 25, 2011 at 6:25 pm

  4. Jill

    Hmmm… “the poor ought to not think they’re less human simply because their poor”??? Did you make this statement on Sunday in your message… if you did, I missed it (and my apologies). I find this statement interesting… I believe you said, “Neither riches nor poverty save… God does not love the poor more than the rich.”

    When I think of this passage in James, I think of it as a reminder that we are all equal in the eyes of the Lord — God doesn’t look at our incomes & checking accounts — And I see it as a warning not to fall into the sin of idolatry — whether it’s money (rich), or false humility (poor), or anything that we grasp more tightly than our love and passion to know Him more!

    We need to view EVERYTHING God gives us as a gift & blessing… and use the gifts He has given us to Glorify HIM and bless/minister to others.

    There is nothing wrong with someone being rich financially — it’s WHAT that person does with his money that reveals the true heart and his love for the Lord, just as you said above.

    Same goes for the person financially “poor” because of circumstances (not choice)— it’s all a trust factor. Trusting God to provide so they may give out of a heart of worship from what little they have.

    Now… the person who is “poor” because they believe God will love them more…. Well, that’s a pride issue and obviously no better than a Pharisee.

    “Give and it will come back to you…. Pressed down, shaken together, & running over…” Luke 6:38

    Where are our hearts? WHOM or what do we serve?

    (My apologies if this doesn’t make sense… it is after midnight!)

    August 26, 2011 at 12:19 am

    • I did not say that phrase. I wanted to clarify something because some people will look down on the poor because they’re poor, but we ought to see that this passage is relating to both poor and rich as people to whom God is calling to Himself. Neither is more “superior” for their status. And, yes, ultimately, “Neither riches nor poverty save.” That is key in this passage.

      I very much agree with what you’re saying here and that is key to James’ argument at the beginning of this chapter.

      August 26, 2011 at 8:54 am

  5. enenennx

    Tim, you say: “The rich and poor look to temporal things for ultimate satisfaction”.

    I disagree with this generality.

    In regards to the poor, they are looking to temporal things (eg food, shelter) not for “ultimate satisfaction” but for survival. Many, many Americans (not to mention the scores of thousands of recently starved-to-death children in Somalia) simply do not (did not) have the luxury of your contemplative academic musings about “ultimate satisfaction” and the “everlasting beauty of eternity”.

    What true hunger does to the mind and body is devastating. In such a condition, one cannot muse on such ethereal imaginings. When glucagon levels sky-rocket and the Cori cycle sets in, fatigue and apathy decrease all other motivations. Cruelly, mucosal fungal infections set in making swallowing extremely painful, hindering one’s last instinctual drive.

    It would never cross my mind to accuse these poorest of the poor of “not knowing God” as they struggle (merely!) with temporal things (of food and shelter), and I would forgive the lack of grace they exhibit by not exalting “the everlasting beauty of eternity” at such times (and such times comprise the entirety of existence of the grand majority of all the people to have ever lived).

    So when you say “The rich and poor look to temporal things for ultimate satisfaction” , if you mean that the way a normal person would read it, I find it disrespectful, and basically just not true. But I imagine you were simply unclear.

    August 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm

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