James 2:5-7 – the problem with wealth

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?James 2:5-7

 

Often we see wealth as a blessing, but Jesus warns us it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven. In the Beatitudes Jesus tells us “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God” (Matthew 5:3) and later on in the Sermon on the Mount He warns us not to accumulate earthly treasures that will fade but to focus on the heavenly treasures that will last for eternity (Matthew 6:19-20). The problem with wealth is it can take our focus off God.

When we get caught up in the accumulation of money and stuff to make us happy we miss out, for only God can truly satisfy. We will never be content if we are wanting money to complete us, for no matter how much we earn it will never be enough. Not matter how many fancy gadgets or flashy cars we buy there will always be something better to chase after.

James reminds us that when our trust is in Jesus we are not promised financial riches, but we are offered riches – we will be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom. We have a rich inheritance awaiting us because of our position as adopted sons and daughters of God. And yet so often we can spend our earthly life focused on the here and now, the temporal pleasures and a nice pay-cheque. We go through the grind of work, working crazy hours in the pursuit of a bigger pay-cheque to buy more things we don’t really need, and when we get to the end of our life we can’t take any of it with us. As CT Studd said “Only one life, will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last”. Compared to the vastness of eternity the 70,80 or 90 years we have on earth are nothing. So it is madness to waste that time on things that won’t last when we could be laying up treasures in heaven, knowing we have a glorious inheritance awaiting us because we are heirs of the kingdom.

It might not make sense to the world around us to opt out of the rat race and be content with less now so that we can invest more into the advancement of the kingdom, but we have the promise of being rich in faith to cling to. Being rich in faith means much more than being rich in silver or gold. Being rich in faith means having all the rich blessings of God for this life and for eternity, and there is nothing worth more or that could ever come close to that. When we are rich in faith we will have all that we need for now in this temporary earthly life and for all eternity.

 

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