I am the Rich Person James is Talking About

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

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. James 5:1-4 NLT

King David heard a story about oppression and became very angry about it, until Nathan told him, “You are that man!” Like King David, I have to admit, for years whenever I read James 5:1-4, I thought I was among the poor that God’s justice would vindicate. I have lost money to dishonest and greedy people. I compared myself to those who had more. Then I realized there are many who consider me rich! With almost 7 billion people on the planet, there are only 1 billion cars.* This does not mean that 1 out of 7 people owns a car, because there are many people and companies who own many cars, meaning there are over 6 billion people who do not own a car. So if you own a car, even if its a 1980 Ford Pinto, you have something over 6 billion earthlings do not have. The other night when you got sick in the middle of the night and had to run to the toilet down the hall, you may not have realized what a luxury that midnight run was. Over two billion people don’t have a toilet to run to in the middle of the night. ** So their experience with sickness may be a little different than yours. The other night I got a headache and my bones became a little achy, so I took a hot bath and presto! Headache disappeared and my bones felt brand new. Again, a hot bath would not be an option for billions of people. What a luxury!

Now when I read James 5, I realize I am one of the rich people James is talking to. But how could I be holding back the wages of the workers in the field? I don’t even own a field. How about the gospel workers in God’s field? Do I return an honest tithe and offering? If not then I am cheating the field workers of their wages just like James says. Do I give an honest tip to the waitress, hairdresser or the boy who carried my grocery bags to the car? If not, I am the cheater James is talking to. I could go on but I think you get the point.

Withholding money which rightfully belongs to others is not the only form of oppression. How about when we snub someone from our social circle because they don’t conform to our beliefs or opinions? That is emotional oppression! How about when we sneer at the kid who just let the ball go in the other goal, costing our kid’s team the game? That’s emotional oppression. So you don’t have to be a millionaire to be oppressive.

No matter what my losses in life have been, I am still the rich person James is warning in James 5.

If God is for us, who can ever be against us?  Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Romans 8:31-32 NLT

If I give my bread to someone who never pays me back that is okay. My Father will give me all the bread I need. If I love someone who never loves me back that is okay. My Father gives me all the love I need. Whenever the Bible gives warnings to the rich, I know those warnings are for me personally. Nathan woke David up by saying, “you are that man!” When I read James 5 the Holy Spirit woke me up by saying, “You are that man!”

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

*http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/08/23/car-population_n_934291.html

**http://www.actionagainsthunger.org/impact/water-sanitation-hygiene?gclid=Cj0KEQiAneujBRDcvL6f5uybhdABEiQA_ojMglo4kAT0afufxpjEU4q0va_pKJZXhX7eZB8yElpImHEaAjY78P8HAQ

Luke 11-12; Asking to Give

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Luke 11:5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; 

 11:6       For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? 

 11:7       And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. 

 11:8       I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. 

 11:9       And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 

 11:10    For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 

As we have already seen in the Lord’s prayer and in Daniel’s prayer, those whose hearts are filled with God’s love never pray selfish prayers. The man in this story is begging for bread, but not for himself, but rather so he can share it with his friend who has come to visit. After this parable comes the promise that we will get what we ask for, but only as we ask in the same spirit that is illustrated in the story. We ask, so that we can share with others.

Later, in Luke 12, Jesus tells another parable about a man who was not rich towards God and others:

Luke 12:16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 
 12:17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 
 12:18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 
 12:19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, [and] be merry. 
 12:20 But God said unto him, [Thou] fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 
 12:21 So [is] he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. 
 12:22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. 
 12:23 The life is more than meat, and the body [is more] than raiment. 
 12:24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? 
 12:25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? 
 12:26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? 
 12:27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 
 12:28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more [will he clothe] you, O ye of little faith? 
 12:29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. 
 12:30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. 
 12:31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. 
 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 
 12:33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. 
 12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.