Sometimes, the very thing we dream about, that we want, that we're so passionate about, oh Lord, if I just got married, oh God, just give me that job, oh God, just... And sometimes you get it.
And sometimes you mortgage all that really matters to get it and you find yourself empty. If that's you or someone you know, you want to stick around because we're going to talk about why better things don't always make things better. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. The mission of these daily programs is to intentionally disciple Christians through the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram. I'm Dave Druey and in just a minute, Chip will continue his popular series, Five Lies That Ruin Relationships. Today, Chip's in the book of James, chapter 5, unpacking for us how we can truly live a fulfilled and satisfied life, no matter the circumstances. And if you want some deeper insight into how that works, keep listening after this message to hear some practical advice from Chip.
So be sure to stick around for that. Okay, here's Chip with his talk, Why Better Things Don't Always Make Things Better. I'd like to start a little bit unusual. I'm going to ask you a question. I want you to answer this question with the very first most immediate response that comes to your mind. I don't want you to answer it with what you ought to, what you should say, what a Christian is supposed to say, what some really holy person would want you to say. I'm just going to read one question and just the most immediate reaction that comes to your mind, honestly, true or false, I want you to say it in your mind. You don't have to blurt it out. Here's the question.
Are you ready? If I had more money, I would be more happy, true or false? Okay, I hear false. Then why is it that everyone wants more money? See, I always get that, I always get that. Now if you were sitting around with some friends looking at your bills, or you were thinking about how nice it would be to either upgrade something or turn in that older car and get a little bit newer car, or my sneaking suspicion is that we have an intellectual understanding that goes like this and we have sort of an emotional and volitional understanding that often is at odds with that. If you observe the average person's life, most people think, if I won the lotto, my life would really get better. I mean, we have a lotto mentality and we're going to talk about something very interesting and I think you're going to enjoy this one. But before we do, I want to probe a little bit, not down on anybody, but I want to probe a little bit because I think down deep, most of us, because we're mature and we could handle it, if God gave us more money, we probably would think we'd be a little, I mean, not a lot happier, of course, but maybe a little happier.
I mean, we'd have more to give away, right, to help others. Exhibit from yesterday's headlines, when you study a passage, it is hard. I really have a practice, and this is the greatest compliment I can give him, I have a practice that when I'm studying a passage, I refuse to read anything Chuck Swindoll has written on the passage because if I read it, it so frames how I think about it because it's so good, it totally messes me up. But after I've done all my own study and I'm really ready to preach it, then I like to read what Chuck Swindoll has to say. And as he wrote on the passage, James 5, 1 to 6, he tells about a warning to the wealthy and he's done some good research.
Just listen. In 1923, the world's most successful financiers met in Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago, the year 1923. Those present included the president of the largest independent steel company, the greatest wheat speculator, the president of the New York Stock Exchange, a member of the president of the United States cabinet, the greatest bear in Wall Street, and the president of the bank of the international settlement, and the head of the world's largest and greatest monopoly. So you have a pretty high-powered group of people meeting.
According to one source, collectively, these tycoons controlled more wealth than there was in the United States Treasury. And for years, newspapers and magazines had printed their success stories, urging the youth of the nation to follow their example. They did a study. Two decades later, 20 years later. In this room, 1923, Chicago Fancy Hotel, the most powerful men, the richest men in, you know, and they're talking. And then fast forward 20 years later, 20 years later, there was a follow-up study conducted to discover the rest of the story about these seven men who met in Chicago.
The results were stunning. The president of the largest independent steel company lived on borrowed money for the last five years of his life and died penniless. The greatest wheat speculator died abroad in solvent. The president of the New York Stock Exchange was released from Sing Sing.
The member of the presence cabinet was pardoned from prison so he could go home to die. The greatest bear in Wall Street committed suicide. The president of the bank of international settlement committed suicide. The head of the world's greatest monopoly committed suicide. All seven success stories ended tragically.
Names that were once synonymous with wealth, power, and influence in the end were associated with humiliation, crime, and violent death. See, I think most of us know intellectually the answer to the question, I would be more happy if I had more money, intellectually, spiritually is no. But I think pragmatically the answer to how we respond it and how we live our lives is, if I had more money, yes, I would be more happy. And yet that's yesterday's exhibit. Exhibit B is today's relationships.
46% of all divorces in America are rooted in issues over money. The lie is this, my significance, write that word in, and value, write that word in, is measured by the quality and the quantity of the things that I possess. Possessions provide security and power so I can be safe, personally satisfied, and rule my world.
I'll give that to you again. My significance, first word, and my value, second word, is measured by the quality and the quantity of the things I possess. Third word. Fourth word, possessions provide security and power so I can be safe, personally satisfied, and rule my world. That's the lie that we're going to uncover. To put it another way, more things and better things will make me a something.
It is inbred in America and our culture. My value as a person is reflected, I mean my value, my worth, my significance is reflected in what I wear, what I drive, and how much I make. My happiness in life is dependent upon having the latest toys, the nicest stuff, and financial security. And today we'll learn that those very subtle philosophical values and mindsets are at the core of destroying some of the most important relationships in your life. It's a very, very interesting passage. But you struggle with this passage because it starts so strong.
To understand it, you need to know the intended audience. And what I want you to know, verse one is intended for unbelieving rich who were abusing believers at the time. This is the first book of the New Testament as I've shared before. And so the early church, these people have been scattered. James opens up to those, to the 12 tribes scattered abroad. And many have lost their families, lost their business, and they find themselves in dire financial straits.
Many of them, because they've accepted Jesus as the Messiah, have been cut out of wills, cut out of inheritances, and they're in a very difficult time, disowned by their families. And the scathing rebuke in verse one is rich, powerful people that are abusing God's children. Then in verses two to four in this historical background, we're going to get some reasons why God is so adamant about this abuse. Open your Bible, and let me just read an overview of the first six verses, and then let's dig in together.
It opens up and says, now listen, you rich people, and this is strong, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Verse one, written to unbelievers abusing God's children, judgment's coming for what you've done. He goes on to say, your wealth has rotted and moths have eaten your clothes. Verse three, your gold and silver are corroded.
Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look, the wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, those who were not even opposing you. And so the intended audience is some rich unbelievers, but out of it I think are some principles for all of us.
Scathing rebuke followed by the four reasons for the rebuke. Now here's what I want you to get before we jump into this very strong passage. The truth is God is not opposed to wealth. Many of the greatest believers in the Bible time were wealthy.
Solomon, David, Job, Abraham, New Testament, Joseph of Arimathea, Barnabas, very, very wealthy believers. He's not against wealth, but God is opposed to the misuse and the abuse of wealth. For your own study, if there's one section of scripture I think that really helps you understand the balance of wealth and enjoying it as a good gift from God and being on guard against what wealth can do, I would encourage you, 1 Timothy chapter 6, verse 6 through the end of the chapter.
I'd make that a personal study. I would get my arms around 1 Timothy 6, about verse 6 through the end, and really have a grasp of what does God say about wealth. However, God's not against wealth, but the warning is the misuse of wealth brings God's judgment. And so let's open up the text together. Notice what it says in verse 1 of James chapter 5. Now listen, it's strong.
Literally it's stop. Wait a minute, you rich people weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Underline the word rich people because we need to know who they are.
And then circle the word weep and wail. Who are these rich people? Again, Swindoll makes a great observation. He says there's four kinds of people in the Bible with regard to wealth. There's people that are poor without on the outside and they're poor within. In other words, the point is they don't have any economic wealth, but they don't have any spiritual wealth either. He said there's people who are rich without, they have strong economic physical wealth, but they are poor within.
They don't have a relationship with God. He says third, there are people that are poor without. In other words, they are poor financially, but they are rich spiritually. And then his final observation, there are people that are rich without, very, very wealthy, but they're poor within, totally estranged from God.
And that's who this is addressed to. And he says to them, weep, literally it's a prophetic usage. The same word is used in the Old Testament of a response for evil men and women of how they should respond knowing that divine judgment is coming down.
This is really strong. And then he says to them, not only weep, but wail, loud weeping. So that's the warning. He says the misuse of wealth that hurts and abuses other people will bring the judgment of God.
And then he's going to give the reason. There's four warnings that he gives out of verses two through six. And these warnings are for wealthy people who are unbelievers, who are abusing God's people.
But here's the thing. All scripture is profitable, right, for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. And the fact of the matter is these are four warnings and he's going to give specific reasons to these unbelieving people about the abuses there. But those really turn into very clear warnings to you and me because I don't think we're immune to the misuse or the mishandling of money. And so he's going to give us four clear warnings about what not to do or how not to handle your money.
So the first one has to do with how much you've accumulated. He's going to talk in verse two and he's going to say, here's the warning. Don't hoard it. Don't hoard it. And you say, where do I get that? Read verse two.
Look at it. It says, your wealth has rotted and moss have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver have corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you. And boy, this is graphic and will eat your flesh like fire.
I mean, that is like graphic. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. To understand this passage, put a circle around the word rotted, put a circle around the word closed, and put a circle around the word corroded because this is all about the accumulation of wealth.
But they didn't use 401ks and didn't have a lot of banks the way we think of banks. And the way they would accumulate wealth is number one through food. In other words, your harvest, you get more and more and more grain. So you would store it, and he says, guess what? It's rotted. Another way was clothes. You had silks or linens or fine fabrics.
You would stack them up, and the more you owned, that would be like, you know, your 401k or your retirement. And he says, the moss have gone in and eaten it. And the other was precious metals. And he says, they're corroded. And the word picture is this extreme judgment because they were hoarding, because they were so selfish, why there were so many people that had needs, he says, God is going to judge you. Look at all the needs that there are, and look how you have hoarded it. And he says, those things that you thought would give power and security, the grain is being eaten up and ruined. Those things that you thought that, you know, you could leverage or buy and sell and do something with, he says, the moss are going to take care of it. And the precious metals are being corroded before your very eyes.
Why? Because you have hoarded it. You've taken and taken and taken and taken and taken to give you personal power and a sense of authority and prestige and security.
You thought, all the while, all these people had needs. And God says, don't do it. And you know what? We're not immune to that.
We're the most prosperous country in the world. I had a lady in our church in California that we were talking about this. And she said, you know something, it is amazing how we think things or possessions will really come through for us. And her husband owns a kind of a surf, a special kind of windsurfing company.
And her kids are grown. So she decided she'd kind of go work part time in a department store and get out and meet some people. And so she was out one day and a lady came in and she began to show her different things. And she just went in and she just started taking all kind of things and racks and racks and racks and racks and she came out with, she goes, I mean, it was thousands of dollars worth of clothes. And she goes, oh, did your house burn down or something terrible happened?
I mean, this is a lot of clothes for one day. She goes, no. She goes, in fact, I have four walk-in closets at home. She said, what?
Yeah, four. And she said, well, I mean, do you need these? She said, the lady looked at her like, need these. That never entered my mind. It was just a hoarding. There was something that made her feel powerful and significant to go in and buy these clothes and have anything she wanted rack after rack after rack after rack.
And that's an extreme case. But sometimes I Saturday morning, I'll get up early and I kind of like to drive into the office because no one's there and I get a lot more done. It's quiet. And you have all these. I'm sure your town's the same. These garage sales.
Do you see how many garage sales there are? Saturday morning's a big morning to have that. Get there early, by the way.
You don't get there early. The good stuff's going. And I thought to myself, when I was a kid, no one had garage sales. We have so much stuff. We have so much stuff. We live in a garage sale world where we all have so much stuff that we have to put it out on our lawn so that other people can come and buy our stuff. And we live in a garage sale mentality world.
Could it be that even Christians are guilty of hoarding in our day? All of us have a line. All of us have a secret line that we think, you know, and you know, and some with good reason we'll talk about, I need X amount of money, you know, for this situation. And then I feel secure if I have X amount of money. And then after I have that, and then I also have my retirement working and I have then I'm willing and ready to be generous with others. The more and more and more you get does not produce more and more generosity. The more and more and more you get, what it produces is your safety net gets bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger.
And it's interesting, you would think, you know, that, you know, the percentage of your giving would increase and increase and increase and increase the more you get, but actually what begins to happen is people realize they have more and more and more to lose. Warning number one, don't hoard it. Warning number two has to do with about how we get the money that we have. And he says, don't steal it.
Don't steal it. Notice what he says in verse three, look, the wages you fail to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.
It's the Lord's Sabbath, the one who's the host of armies, the all powerful, the leader, the one who repays, the God who will bring about justice. And you need to know the historical context is they were getting income dishonestly. The way it worked in that day is, remember the parables that Jesus would tell where you would come out into the field and at the end of the day you got paid? That's how people got paid. And what these people would do is they would go and they would do their day's work. And then the guy who's rich and powerful would say, I'm not going to pay you today.
It's exactly what it says. You withhold the wages from your workmen. But unlike us, they didn't get their paycheck every two weeks or once a month and write out their bills. They didn't go home and have a closet full of food. They made the money that day for that day's food. In fact, later on, you'll learn the definition of a rich person in New Testament times is you had a second change of clothes and you already knew for the day or the next day after today you already had the food stored. That's considered rich.
So you have excess. Most people live hand to mouth. Most of the world lives in such a way where, what am I going to eat today? I'm going to work today.
I get this money when I get this money. I'm going to buy the food. I'm going to buy the food.
I'm going to take care of my family. Now they have enough for tonight and morning breakfast and lunch. And then I'm going to go to work and I get my... And what they did is they wouldn't pay them. So their families couldn't eat.
And that's why I didn't... Notice the cries of the harvesters. What would you do if you were a man and you worked all day and you needed X amount and there's no food at home and you know the day's gone and then you come home and the big heavy guy and what are you going to do? You're a little poor guy. He's a rich, powerful guy. Not paying you today.
You go home and you cry. The cries of the harvesters are being heard by the Almighty, the Lord Sabaoth. And he's telling these people, I'll tell you what, I'm going to come and I'm going to bring about justice because what are they doing?
They're stealing it. I don't know about you, but some of the worst testimonies I've ever seen in all my life have to do with people not paying their debts. People's not paying their debts. This is a very, very disturbing, but do you know in America at least one of the worst credit risks are pastors?
Now I'm hoping it's of all those non-Bible believing churches, but I don't think that's where it's at. You ask financial people, pastors are one of the worst credit risks and if they don't have their act together with regard to money, what in the world is happening in the churches? How many of you have done business with a Christian, you know, fish on the card, fish on the car, you know, and have had like terrible experience, right?
It's almost like you see the fish on the card, you're thinking, I'm just looking for someone honest and sign the contract because I'm just not sure, wonder why I put that there. How many of you have a relative who is a believer that owes you money and because you're both Christians? You're both in a church situation, and boy this happened in our church a number of times, you trust one another. Christians by the way are the easiest people to con on the face of the earth.
Ponzi schemes, get rich quick schemes, you are the easiest, you know what, you're trusting. And if a person says Jesus a couple times, praise the Lord a couple times, quotes a couple verses and then says, hey, you know, could you help me out and I really need this and I've got this great opportunity, it is amazing in churches how people will lend money or give money to other people only to discover some of the worst conflicts you ever have is with a fellow believer who doesn't pay you back. I've been in church discipline situations where people have come in and said, you know, I don't get it, we gave them X thousands of dollars, they say they can't pay us.
They went to Hawaii, we can't go to Hawaii, they owe us $10,000, how can they go to Hawaii? What are you pastors going to do about this? And this person is involved in ministry in the church and you bring those people together and you sit them down, you open the Bible and you shoot it really straight and you work through some very difficult issues and you line out payment plans and so that happens even in the church. He says the wrong uses of wealth, warning number one, don't hoard it. Warning number two, don't steal it.
He goes on, warning number three. This is about how we spend the money that we have and here he says, don't waste it. Don't waste it, listen to the scripture. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. Put a circle around that word luxury, you guys are getting good at this Bible study, aren't you? And put another circle around the word self-indulgence. The root word of the word luxury here, it means to break down, to make soft. It has the idea of an excess in living. It's a picture of people that have so much that there's never any need, there's such opulence that it's not just the physical things but they have very weak moral fiber. You find that some of the downfalls of great civilizations, there's such luxury that people never have to make hard decisions, they never have to say no to themselves, there's no discipline and so what you find is the softness not only occurs in all the finances and the food and the luxury and this and that but there's no moral fiber, there's no strength. And so he says to them, you've lived in this luxury and if you miss the point, self-indulgence, it's the idea of excess waste that connotates lewd, immoral self-gratification. This is a picture of the Nero's of the world. This is the idea of people that have so much and eat so much that they just fling it here and fling it there, you know, they stick their finger down their throat to throw up so they can eat some more. This is a picture of the rich and the famous. This is the little stories that we get where so and so met so and so and they were a little bored one night so they flew to Paris for lunch the next day. It was great.
Had a hundred of their friends come with them. It's this sense of you've got it, flaunt it, you've got it, use it. And God speaks to these people and he says you've lived in luxury and self-indulgence and then this phrase, you have fatted yourselves in the day of slaughter. Literally you've fatted your heart.
That's the literal text. You have fattened your heart and it's a word picture of what they would do when they would have a pig that would be grain fed. They would put a pig in a stall and they would fatten it and grain feed it to make it and it's a picture of God saying, you think you've been living in the lap of luxury? I'll tell you what you have done. You are like a pig that's been preparing yourself that I'm going to slaughter because all you've done is focused on you. You've lived in such wanton, opulence and waste.
It's pretty strong stuff, isn't it? What's the application for us as believers? For me the application is just because you can afford it doesn't mean you should buy it.
Just because you can afford it does not mean you should buy it. I think what's developed in our country and developed even in the church is what I call the buffet mentality. You know what the buffet mentality is? You paid your eight bucks, your nine fifty, your twelve fifty or if it's one of those Sunday brunches, twenty two bucks, right? There's a table here and they've got shrimp and roast beef and chicken and they've got seven kinds of meat and over here they've got forty nine kinds of dessert and then you can have eggs over here, you can have waffles over here, there's fresh fruit over here and there's more food than forty nine people could eat in like forty nine days ever. But you've paid your twenty two bucks or your nine fifty and what do you got to do?
You got to make sure you get your nine fifty worth. So you know you put stuff that doesn't even go together, a piece of ham and a shrimp and an egg, you know? But you like all three and it's a buffet and you go and you eat that and you watch kids there and they eat about half the plate and the servers come by and they take half the plates off with food and people line up for you know round two and round three and round four and you know they ought to give you Pepto Bismol and Alka Seltzer to go but they don't. And you get your twenty two dollars worth and you stuff your face and you feel uncomfortable but it's not just how we eat.
Why? Why do we do that at a buffet? Because there's so much and you can have, what's the whole point of a buffet? Eat all you want, right? And if it's there to eat, whether you're still hungry, whether you need it, sometimes, I know the shrimp cost a lot. I mean if I'm going to really get my money's worth, nine o'clock in the morning, okay I'll go for the shrimp. And because it's there, there's a compulsion in human nature to do something with it.
And I think what's happened is the buffet mentality has gotten to where you know if we got money, we just, we're deluded in thinking it's our money. It's God's money. What do you have that you don't possess?
What do you have that you haven't received? A hundred percent of all that you have, all that I have, it's God. You say, well I work for it, okay, who gave you the talent? Who gave you the job?
Who gave you the oxygen? He's the Lord of all the earth. Silver and gold is mine, Deuteronomy 8. Everything belongs to him and so what he's saying to these people is don't waste it. Don't waste it. Don't hoard it. Don't steal it.
Don't waste it. You've been listening to part one of Chip's message, Why Better Things Don't Always Make Things Better. He'll be right back with his application for this teaching from his series, Five Lies That Ruin Relationships. Are you in the middle of a messy family situation or a painful relationship and wonder, how did it come to this?
Are you desperate to make it all right? Well, in this series, Chip's in the book of James unpacking for us five false ideas we believe about ourselves and others that can destroy our relationships. Don't miss what you can do to fix those broken bonds in your family and friendships today.
To learn more about this series, Five Lies That Ruin Relationships, go to livingontheedge.org, the Chip Ingram app, or call 888-333-6003. Well, I'm joined now by our Bible teacher, Chip Ingram, and Chip you ended today's message by explaining how obsessing over money or stuff can ruin our relationship with God and cloud our judgment. Now, I'm sure there's people saying, yeah, yeah, yeah, I've heard that all before, but take a minute if you would and tell us why this truth is so, so important to repeat.
I'd be glad to, Dave. Working on money and wealth and work and the kind of things we're teaching on is at the core of discipleship and transforming people's lives. I'm thrilled that I got to teach on this, and I can tell you, people will be realigning their priorities, their lives, and their finances, because wherever their money goes, according to Jesus, their heart will follow. So thank you very much for your support financially of this ministry that allows us to teach those kind of truths. So if you're looking for a place to invest in ministry that will really make a difference, Living on the Edge might be a great opportunity.
Thanks, Chip. Well, if partnering with this ministry is an idea that makes sense to you, we'd love to have you join us. Helping Christians live like Christians will change the world we live in. To give a gift, go to livingontheedge.org or text the word donate to 741-41. That's donate to 741-41, or visit livingontheedge.org.
App listeners just tap donate. Thanks for taking the time to help others benefit from the work of this ministry. Chip, you know it's easy to think after a message like this that excessive money or maybe nice possessions are bad, and Christians should avoid them. So as a place to wrap up this program, help us get a better understanding of what the Bible really says about wealth.
Be glad to, Dave. Money in and of itself, obviously, is not bad or wrong. God isn't opposed to us having it, but he's opposed to what it can do to us. He's opposed to us getting it by stealing or manipulating, defrauding people. He's opposed to us hoarding it or finding our security in it.
But what I will say, and I think this is really underestimated, especially those of us that live in the first world. I think we say things like money is neutral, and it's not. Money is dangerous. Money is powerful.
It's the other God. We need to understand that, yes, we have to deal with money. We need to have it, spend it, save it, invest it, give it.
But Jesus said that there's two gods, him and mammon. And it's very interesting. They don't even translate it money.
They really gave it a name. The idea is it's so dangerous that that's why there's all the warnings about money. I am so grateful that the Lord has entrusted lots of money to lots of people to do lots of good. But I also have been around the block long enough, and I have watched how even the best and most sincere Christians, little by little by little, get their lens clouded by money. In our next broadcast, I'm really going to talk about a specific game plan about how to take this dangerous commodity and use it wisely, invest it wisely, give it wisely, earn it honestly.
Money is a powerful, powerful thing, and we need to get a good, clear, biblical perspective of it and then put that into practice. The next broadcast you don't want to miss. Thanks for the reminder, Chip. Well as we wrap up, let me quickly tell you about a great way to listen to our extended teaching podcast. Hear Chip anytime on your Amazon Echo or Echo Dot. To get started, ask Alexa to enable the Chip Ingram podcast and then just say, Alexa, play the Chip Ingram podcast. It's that easy. Well, join us again next time as Chip continues his series, Five Lies That Ruin Relationships. Until then, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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