June 8, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by James Kim, Gracepoint Berkeley

James 5:1-3

“Money poses a grave danger…As James warns us, the love of money will garner judgment from God.  Money has potential to cause us to ignore God and to become callous to the needs of our brothers and sisters, and it will result in judgment if we have used wealth selfishly.  The love of money has this power because we are so easily blinded to the strength of its allure, and we ignore it to our peril.”[1]

What was the result of the rich people hoarding their wealth?

The result of rich people hoarding their wealth is that their wealth rotted, moths had eaten their clothes, and their gold and silver corroded.  And the rotting and corrosion of their wealth served as evidence against them for hoarding their wealth.

This is an apt picture of what happens with wealth in this life when it is hoarded. Rotting and corrosion are terms used toward things that sit there and aren’t used.  Clothes that are put away for storage get eaten by moths.  When people put away wealth, hoard it for themselves, then this passage says that it rots and corrodes. It’s put away to keep for the self, more than what is needed and kept, rather than being used (ie for others).  It’s resources that could’ve been utilized, but wasn’t because of the hoarding heart.

What should I be doing with my “wealth in the last days?”

I should be using my wealth in the last days to love people, to demonstrate tangible care for them so that they can be brought to experience God’s love through me.  What wealth that I hoard for myself in this life is going to be wasted in the end if it isn’t used as a resource for this purpose, as I can’t bring it with me when I cross over to the other side of death.  I should instead invest it in people, as that has eternal impact.

James 5:4-6

What does “The wages you failed to pay the workmen… are crying out against you” say regarding sins committed against others because of money?

“The wages you failed to pay the workmen… are crying out against you” first implies that what money and resources I have “belong” to others. It implies that I owe those resources to others.  And that makes sense, as everything that I have has been given to me, provided for me by God, who commands me to love others.  So what resources that I have I am to steward in that way.  If I hoard for myself rather than putting my resources to use for others, then I am denying them the “commodities” of love that I owe them.  That serves as the indictment against me, in what ways I didn’t take the opportunity to put the resources entrusted me – to steward for God’s purposes – to work.

I think with regard to money, I’m willing to put it down to provide for others, be it out of need or for relationship building opportunities.  I enjoy providing for others when they are in need, and just providing food or whatever for fellowship times at my house or wherever.  We’re having the seniors who are around here over for dinner tonight, and we’ve been doing that a lot last semester.  It makes me happy to do that for the people that I love and care about.  But when it comes to the other resources, I think I might be not as willing.  The way it would come out is my attitude toward the things that I do.  I’ll be responsible with the things that I need to do.  But there is something inside of me that has a “that’s good enough” attitude.  I’m thinking about when I have to do praise, and it’s tempting to just throw something together that’ll work, that doesn’t have a lot of thought into it.  Of course, there are times when I have to do that because of short notice.  But by no means does that mean that should be the standard or a regular practice or the norm.  Of course there are times that things get changed last minute and that might throw off what preparation I put in.  But that doesn’t justify not putting in the work and thought and heart and care.  And it’s something that affects the entire congregation when I do it.  The commodities that I’m preserving for myself is time, effort, energy… and just wanting to get to the other things that I need to do.  I’m in a position where I’m expected to put to work those resources, which actually include the experience that I have from doing it for over a decade now…

Why are such harsh words used against the life of luxury and self-indulgence?

These hard words are used against the life of luxury and self-indulgence because it goes directly against the way that God commands us to live.  He says to love others, take care of those in need and less fortunate.  Luxury and self-indulgence necessarily means holding onto far more than what I need, preserving these for myself.  That is definitively “self-preserving”.  That is in direct opposition to the life that God calls me to. That is indirect opposition to the life that Jesus demonstrated for me.  That is why these harsh words are appropriately used against the life of luxury and self-indulgence.

PERSONAL PRAYER

Please write out a prayer of commitment or confession either based on today’s text, or upon reflection over recent events in your life.

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for my self-preserving ways.  I know that what I have has been entrusted to me to steward for your purposes, and so is rightfully owed to those the people that you place in my life, also entrusted to me.  I commit to putting to good use my money and the other resources of time and energy, care and concern so that others can have the opportunity to be eternally impacted through them.  That is the kind of love that has been demonstrated to me through the people that you’ve entrusted me to.  And so I commit to do the same.

 

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