The Misuse Of Riches

1 Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. Your gold and silver are corroded. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This corroded treasure you have hoarded will testify against you on the day of judgment. For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter. You have condemned and killed innocent people {the righteous man}, who do not resist you.

INTRODUCTION

First of all, let me say there is nothing sinful about wealth but it does bring with it many temptations.

  1. PRIDE –The temptation that you have it because of your own efforts–And you say in your heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth. Pride tempts us to take ownership of that which God has blessed us with. [Deut. 8:17-18]
  2. WORSHIP–The temptation to trust your wealth to meet all your needs–They trust in their wealth and boast of great riches. Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death by paying a ransom to God. [Psalms 49:6-7]…If your wealth increases, don’t make it the center of your life.
  3. HOARDING–The temptation that you can keep your wealth–For when they die, they take nothing with them. Their wealth will not follow them into the grave.[Psalm 49:17]
  4. LAZINESS— The temptation to sit down and take it easy, avoiding hard work–Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, but he who gathers by labor will increase. [Proverbs 13:11] [Luxury will destroy the soul and easy money will destroy character.]
  5. GREED— The temptation to get a little more– Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! [Eccl.5:10]

These are just a few of the temptations that accompany wealth. If you envy the wealthy, don’t because it involves much more accountability. I must also raise a caution. All rich people are not greedy, most but not all. Some of the Labor Unions incite hatred toward the rich but this is not our goal. You always have your R.G. LeTourneau’s. He made a fortune in earth moving equipment but was a fantastic Christian. I heard him speak when I was a boy. He came to our little country church because he knew our pastor. He gave 90% to the church and lived on 10%. Maxie Jarman is another example and there are many more but typically wealth corrupts because by nature, wealth is seductive. Understand, we tell the truth about riches but we are not against the rich and neither was James.

I. UNDERSTAND THE AVERAGE RICH PERSON HAS NO FUTURE, AT LEAST NOT A BRIGHT ONE. James said, Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. The misuse of funds carries a stiff penalty. The only way to make wealth endure is to invest. You keep nothing that you have no given away. It is in losing that you gain. Jesus said, “Give and it will be given to you.” You cannot borrow your way out of debt but you can give your way out of debt. Anything you cling to or hoard, you will lose.
II. SECONDLY YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THAT MATERIAL WEATH HAS NO LASTING VALUE UNLESS IT IS USED TO HELP OTHERS. Riches, wealth in and of itself has no value. It has become a stumbling block to many. Gold is a metal and it will rust: all material wealth is subject to rust or rot. I know a good man who has one weakness: he is a hoarder. He keeps things that he will never use. He has untold wealth that could be converted into mission money. He could build several houses in Guatemala and not be one dime poorer. He is allowing things of value to literally rot and rust. Gold and silver will eventually be worthless.
I know you have heard the story about the man who loved gold and so he had his briefcase packed with gold bullion. When he got to the pearly gates, St. Peter asked to look in the briefcase, when he opened it, he exclaimed in shock and surprise, “You brought pavement.” Gold and silver have value now but you better get it converted into heavenly wealth because he will be worthless to you someday.
III. THIRDLY, OUR WEALTH WEALT BE CALLED TO THE WITNESS STAY AND IT WILL TESTIFY AGAINST US.
Everything belongs to God. This is the first rule of stewardship. Psalms 50 reads…O my people, listen as I speak. Here are my charges against you, O Israel: I am God, your God! I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer. But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens.  For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.
If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it. We call this the PRINCIPLE OF DIVINE OWNERSHIP. If you don’t understand this first principle, you will never be a faithful steward.
CONCLUSION
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