Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
-James 1:9-11 (NIV)
I grew up in an ‘upper-middle-class’ community. We weren’t rich, but we weren’t poor. My parents were born during the great depression and were children during the second world war, then grew up during the boom-time of the nineteen fifties.
Prosperity has continued to increase all around what I can see, during my life and I am probably middle-middle class. Talking about ‘class’ is a crass thing to me. I have wondered about the idea of trying to get rich or having more money, to somehow become fulfilled.
I have discovered through my life so far, that money does not bring happiness. Neither does fame or power. It is very central to Bible wisdom that happiness is an inside job.
Contentment is a matter of the heart. Becoming famous, attaining power or riches more often hurts people rather than benefits them, especially spiritually. We fail in life when we are given too much of these, when we do not yet have the internal structure to carry it.
Nothing has changed since the first century. Being rich is harder than being poor, because our riches get in the way of our spirituality. And a communism or socialism system of forced wealth redistribution is not the answer either.
The heart is what is important to God. And from the heart comes contentment, whether you have abundance or you have little. The Bible does not teach against being rich.
The Bible teaches about the heart. We can all be rich, if our hearts are in the right place. And having hearts aligned with, under the care of and surrendered to God is the Christian life.
Being rich is not the goal nor is being poor. The goal is love, from a pure heart. Love prospers and love is generous.
Every time we are tempted to want what someone else has: their nicer house, their in-laid-brick driveway, their shiny stone counters, their cars, their vacations, their private schools, their fancy shoes with the red inlaid emblem on the sole: the list goes on and on. Every time we lust or covet, are jealous or desire that stuff and the money to ‘have it all’; we need to ‘check ourselves’ and see if we are ‘in the faith’ and look at Jesus, who said, “blessed are the poor”.
I can not find the verse that says, “blessed are the rich”, but I know there are plenty of verses about prosperity. BUT, they are mainly about ‘prosperity of the soul’. Because without a soul that is in God’s hands, being processed to become like Jesus, financial prosperity will kill us.
There are many rich people who have an internal gift of perseverance who have gone from riches to rags and back to riches, a number of times in their lives; because something is exceptional inside them that we could call perseverance.
Many other people go from poor to rich, then back to poor for the rest of their lives. I call them ‘lottery winners’, because this is what so often happens to lottery winners. There is a wisdom saying that is, ” Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.” Another one: “An estate suddenly raised, is often as suddenly ruined.” And, “Wealth gotten by fraud may be sweet, for the carnal mind takes pleasure in the success of wicked devices; but it will be bitter in the reflection.”
James is saying, “you can’t take it with you”. In other words, don’t act like it, making money your god. Money is not evil, but the love of money is the root of all evil.
John Wesley’s motto is a good one: “Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can”.
The message from James is: Humble yourself if you have money and be proud if you are poor. Do not take pride in your wealth, but be humbled that God has saved you. And don’t feel like a victim if you are poor, but take pride in your salvation.
The kingdom of God belongs to the poor. If you are ‘well banked’, live with the poor and receive the kingdom. Don’t let yourself feel and believe that you are better than others because of the money you have.
Humble yourself. Don’t be proud of your money, but be humbled by God. Be humbled that God saved you from so many things and now you have the opportunity to serve God and give.
If you have an internet connection, even if it is free wi-fi somewhere, you are probably not poor. You may think you are poor, feel poor or act poor. Cultivate the richness that you do have in the kingdom of God.
Be a proud son or daughter of the king. How will he bless you today? What will you find in the kingdom, that is awaiting you?
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