Your Money is a Problem

…and so is mine

April 19, 2016 — James 1:9–11

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

One of the uncomfortable realities that us American Evangelicals are not super happy about admitting is that we are rich. We are quick to point the finger at the other richer brother or sister who is a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, but if we believe that we are one body with all believers around the world, our wealth is staggering.

I’m not here to push any sort of guilt on you either. Acquiring riches isn’t a bad thing. Money is just a tool after all — just a very easily worshiped tool. I would like to posit that our focus on financial wisdom and money management in the name of stewardship might sometimes be a very cleaver mask to our fear of being financially unstable.

Allow he who is guilty to cast the first stone at himself. I am horrible at being willing to give freely from what I have been given. I too have bought into the message that I earned what I made and so I am entitled to it. Often when it comes to helping out those who are in need we are more comfortable on putting the responsibility of their care on those who might not be living from paycheck to paycheck, even if that paycheck allows for a Netflix, Adobe Suite, and Spotify subscription.

The fact of the matter is that most of us don’t actually believe that we have everything that we need in Christ. We are much more comfortable in trusting in our own ability to provide for ourselves. If I really was living out the reality of being one with my brothers and sisters in Christ would I be comfortable with having a higher standard of living than them? I am not saying we put all the money into a big pot and divide it equally, but the fact of the matter is that in a family we look out for one another — frankly, I’m not doing that because I don’t really believe those poorer brothers and sisters are just as much my siblings as my two younger brothers are.

Throughout James’ letter he points out this disparity of the rich and the poor in the 1st Century christian culture. To remind the richer brothers and sisters like me to love their less fortunate brothers and sisters James points out that the rich are as fleeting as a wild flower. It is easy for us to explain away passages that point out that it is better to be poor, but that does serious damage to the message of the gospel.

We really are a family, and we really need to believe it. God doesn’t want us to give our money away out of worship, and He isn’t interested in the wise spending practice of stewardship, but He is focused on us living as a family. When we start doing that many of the other practices will start falling into place.