Beware of Greed
Having money can provide a feeling of superiority and fuel pride. Not having it can make you unhappy. But having way more than you need can’t make you happy.
Jesus said, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions" (Luke 12:15, NIV). Most people believe a different gospel.
God judges those who squander riches (verses 1–3). Being rich isn’t a problem in itself. Joseph of Arimathea and Abraham were in a high tax bracket. The real issue is how you got your money and how you use it. The wealthy are often self-sufficient, proud, and self-satisfied. Jesus emphasized how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:24–25).
God will judge those who misuse their financial resources. James first charges the rich with hoarding wealth. On judgment day their tarnished gold and silver will witness conclusively that their treasures were on earth. Not in heaven.
Where are your treasures? The question isn’t how large they are. Where are they? You can’t take those treasures with you. But you can send them on ahead by using them to serve God and others while you’re on earth.
God judges those who cheat their employees (verse 4). Rich landowners in James’ day partly accumulated their wealth at the expense of their laborers. On the day of judgment, the stolen pay and cries of the workers will witness against them. Mistreated workers have an Advocate in heaven. God will settle all accounts eventually. An employer’s responsibility is a fair day’s wage for a day’s work.
God judges those who indulge themselves (verse 5). Extravagantly wasting material resources incurs God’s judgment. Conspicuous consumption is foolish. Having the latest and greatest of everything can’t give you lasting fulfillment.
Self-denial is the path of Christian discipleship. Jesus said, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23, NIV). Perhaps you don’t indulge yourself. Do you indulge your children or grandchildren? You do them a disservice if you give them everything they want. Learning to deny themselves serves them much better. It will prepare them to become fruitful disciples of Jesus Christ.
To whom much is given, much is required. With riches comes greater responsibility. Beware of greed. Managing your financial resources well will earn a “‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21, NIV).
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