Sunday, February 28, 2010

Preaching a sermon on wealth today from James 1:9-12

Preaching on wealth today at First Congregational Church of Waseca - looking at James 1:9-12 - The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11 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 man will fade away even while he goes about his business. 12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

I. Wealth in the OT
A. The perspective of the OT as a whole
1. God is the owner of all things
a. Genesis 1–2
b. I Chr. 29:11
c. Psalm 24:1; 50:12; 89:11
d. Isaiah 66:2
2. Humans are stewards of God’s wealth for His purposes
a. Deut. 8:11–20
b. Leviticus 19:9–18
c. Job 31:16–33
d. Isaiah 58:6–10
3. Wealth is an aspect of worship
a. the two tithes
(1) Numbers 18:21–29; Deut. 12:6–7; 14:22–27
(2) Deut. 14:28–29; 26:12–15
b. Proverbs 3:9
4. Wealth is seen as a gift from God for Covenant fidelity
a. Deut. 27–28
b. Prov. 3:10; 8:20–21; 10:22; 15:6
5. Warnings against personal wealth at the expense of others
a. Proverbs 21:6
b. Jeremiah 5:26–29
c. Hosea 12:6–8
d. Micah 6:9–12
6. Wealth is not sinful in itself unless it becomes the priority of one’s life
a. Psalm 52:7; 62:10; 73:3–9
b. Proverbs 11:28; 23:4–5; 27:24; 28:20–22
c. Job 31:24–28
B. The unique perspective of Proverbs
1. Wealth is related to personal effort
a. slothfulness and laziness condemned (cf. Prov. 6:6–11; 10:4–5, 26; 12:24, 27; 13:2; 15:19; 18:9; 19:15, 24; 20:4, 13; 21:25; 22:13; 24:30–34; 26:13–16)
b. Wealth is related to hard work (cf. Prov. 12:11–14; 13:11)
2. Poverty versus Riches is used to illustrate righteousness versus wickedness (cf. Prov. 10:1ff; 11:27–28; 13:7; 15:16–17; 28:6, 19–20)
3. Wisdom (knowing God and His Word and living out this knowledge daily) is better than riches (cf. Prov. 3:13–15; 8:9–11, 18–21; 13:18)
4. Warnings and admonitions
a. warnings
(1) beware of guarantying a neighbor’s loan (surety) (cf. Prov. 6:1–5; 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 22:26–27; 27:13)
(2) beware of getting rich through evil means (cf. Prov. 1:19; 10:2, 15; 11:1; 13:11; 16:11; 20:10, 23; 21:6; 22:16, 22; 28:8)
(3) beware of borrowing (cf. Prov. 22:7)
(4) beware of the fleetingness of wealth (cf. Prov. 23:4–5)
(5) wealth will not help on judgment day (cf. Prov. 11:4)
(6) wealth has many “friends” (cf. Prov. 14:20; 19:4)
b. admonitions
(1) generosity advocated (cf. Prov. 11:24–26; 14:31; 17:5; 19:17; 22:9, 22–23; 23:10–11; 28:27)
(2) righteousness is better than wealth (cf. Prov. 16:8; 28:6, 8, 20–22)
(3) pray for need, not abundance (cf. Prov. 30:7–9)
(4) giving to the poor is giving to God (cf. Prov. 14:31; 19:17)
II. Wealth in the NT
A. The perspective of Jesus
1. wealth creates a unique temptation to trust in ourselves and our resources instead of God and His resources
a. Matt. 6:24
b. Matt. 19:23; Mark 10:23–31
c. Luke 12:15–21
d. Luke 12:33–34
e. Matt. 13:22
f. Revelation 3:17–19
2. God will provide our physical needs (cf. Matt. 6:19–34; Luke 12:29–32)
3. sowing is related to reaping (this is true in the spiritual realm as well as the physical)
a. Matt. 6:14; 18:35
b. Luke 6:36–38
c. Mark 4:24
4. economic exploitation condemned
a. Matt. 23:25
b. Mark 12:38–40
5. repentance affects wealth
a. Luke 19:2–10 (Lev. 5:16)
6. end-time judgment is related to our use of wealth
a. Matt. 25:31–46
B. The perspective of Paul
1. a practical view like Proverbs (work)
a. Ephesians 4:28
b. I Thess. 4:11–12
c. II Thess. 3:8, 11–12
d. I Timothy 5:8
2. a spiritual view like Jesus (things are fleeting, be content)
a. I Timothy 6:6–10 (contentment)
b. Philippians 4:11–12 (Heb. 13:5, contentment)
c. I Timothy 6:17–19 (generosity and trust in God, not riches)
d. I Corinthians 7:30–31 (transitoriness of things)
C. The perspective of James
1. wealthy Christians, like poor Christians, must glory in their relationship to God through Christ, not worldly conditions (cf. James 1:9–10)
2. wealth is transitory (cf. James 1:10–11)
3. be careful of favoritism (cf. James 2:1–13)
4. be careful of worldly plans (cf. James 4:13–17)
5. be careful of exploitation of the poor and righteous (cf. James 5:1–6)
III. Conclusions
A. There is no systematic biblical theology concerning wealth.
1. In the OT wealth and health were seen as blessings from God for covenant obedience (cf. Deut. 27–28). However, Job and Ps. 73 show that this simple answer does not always fit reality.
2. In the NT wealth is neither condemned nor advocated; however, wealth is often a barrier to trust in God.
B. There is no definitive passage on this subject. Therefore, insights must be gleaned from different passages. Take care not to read your views into these isolated proof-texts.
C. Proverbs, which was written by the wisdom teachers of Israel (sages), has a different perspective than other biblical genres. Proverbs is practical and individually focused. It balances and must be balanced by other Scripture.
D. Our culture needs to analyze its views and practices concerning wealth in light of the Bible. Our priorities are misplaced if capitalism or communism is our only guide. Why and how one succeeds are more important questions than how much one has accumulated.
E. Accumulation of wealth must be balanced with true worship and responsible stewardship (cf. II Cor. 8–9). Wealth is to be used for God’s glory and the advancement of His Kingdom.

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