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Rich Man, Poor Man

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
September 17, 2021 4:00 am

Rich Man, Poor Man

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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September 17, 2021 4:00 am

Climbing the ladder of success is certainly a popular goal. Society applauds the rich who make it to the top while often overlooking the poor left at the bottom. But God has an entirely different perspective! Learn more on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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Many of us in life are focused on personal success or achievement, without much regard for people around us who may be experiencing difficulty. God sees all of this from an entirely different perspective than today on Truth for Life we take a step back in order to look at our circumstances biblically hears Alister back would invest nine of James chapter 1, I just read verse eight, nine, 10 and 11. The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position by the one who is rich should take pride in his low position because he will pass away like a wildflower for the sun rises with scorching heat and weathers the plant its blossom falls into its beauty is destroyed in the same way the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business. I James has begun.

This particular letter by urging his readers to recognize that when they face trials of various kinds. It will make a huge difference if they view them from a proper perspective and the way in which we address ourselves in terms of attitude and viewpoint to a subject will largely determine the behavior that follows the approach that we take and I'm increasingly convinced that in verses nine, 10 and 11. James is not introducing a new theme that is a paragraph shift in the NIV and that is a sense in which that's accurate, insofar as it helps is in the advance of his discussion, but I think we would do wrong by the text.

If we were to isolate verses 910 11 from all that is gone before, particularly in this issue of wisdom and the need for wisdom because it would appear that what he's doing is giving an illustration of the way in which wisdom will change the response that we have, to the circumstances of our lives if we have heavenly wisdom, then we will think about our status in life are material circumstances in life in a way that is different from that which is the perspective of those who do not know the wisdom of God.

Now in James day of poverty was an issue there was no middle class in the time of James. People tended either to be very rich or to be very poor. The circumstances of wealth and money are obviously important in this very practical letter of James, and he is going to come back to them on a number of occasions and we don't really need to be concerned about that tonight. I want you to see is that he is. If you like introducing a subject here and nine, 10 and 11 of chapter 1, to which he is going to come back and he gives to his readers of vital perspective and principal in addressing their circumstances. He is pointing out that heavenly wisdom will enable both those who are poor and those who are rich to view their circumstances.

From the perspective that is both right and radical. In essence what he saying is that both those who are poor and rich need to look at their circumstances. In light of God's big picture need to stand back from their status in life. We need to stand by it from our status in life and we need to adopt heavenly wisdom in assessing how things really are. So for example viewing time and the passage of time in the light of eternity in the same way to view success. However, we may assess it in terms of human frailty, no matter how successful we might be. Eventually all of our successes will crumble and disintegrate and somebody will transcend whatever else we have done and thirdly to view poverty in light of the eternal riches that are made available in the gospel. When I put it this way instead of his readers thinking about their circumstances economically or socially. He is urging us to think about our circumstances theologically or if you like biblically and is going to take the wisdom of heaven in order to do that, not least of all because the prevailing cultural ethos of both James's day and our own day is vastly if not totally different from what he writes the paradoxical nature of his statements here. Challenges most of our Western worldview in relationship to success.

Financial security the future and everything besides.

In fact, as I read this and I wonder did you find it when I was reading it in public.

Here I find myself hearing an echo of James's brother's words in Matthew chapter 6 how amazing it must've been after James was converted to go back through in his mind. Many of the things that his brother Jesus had said, which he thought was really a bunch of bunk because he didn't believe in his brother even really believe in him a tall, but now he sounds so much like his brother doesn't is hard to imagine that he didn't have Jesus words in Matthew 619 and following in his mind. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal what I thought that's what you're supposed to do. I thought is for the life was about, do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal or what should we do store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also is hard for me to go back then diverse ninth and not hear the echo of Jesus words when James is the brother in humble circumstances of the poor brother ought to take pride in his high position. While this is look at it as it calls for us to do. First of all, in the word that he brings to the poor brother. The brother in humble circumstances or your translation may say in low circumstances because the word for humble here actually means to be placed low. Humble yourselves under God's mighty hand, get down low. That's the word that is used so there's a wonderful sort of juxtaposition of of the of verbiage here where he says the fellows low should rejoice that is high. The fellows I should rejoice that is really low. In other words, he says, verse nine, the man or the woman for that matter. He's using brother here in a generic way that the individual who is on the Lord strong of the social and economic ladder should take pride and be glad in their high position. What high position if you view it simply from the perspective of time and economics and status. Everybody says I don't have a high position, but when you view it in light of the glorious riches that Jesus provides the person on the lowest rung of the ladder has a very high position actually has a more significant position than the unconverted wealthy.

For all they have is kept in a bag with a hole in and it is draining through the whole, as they continue their journey through life.

The high position is found in the fact that this individual is the object of God's care that God looks out for him. There is no question that in the history of the church. The church has grown most significantly amongst the poor. Not amongst the rich.

Why because it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven because those of us who are affluent are used to buying our way into every place. There's not a ticket. We can get there is not a concert we can see there is not a right. We can take so we assume I'm sure God must operate on the same basis is why when you read first Corinthians 1 is striking is not process.

Think about yourselves talk about weakness. Just think about yourselves when you were called. Not many of you were mighty, not many of you were peculiarly influential UNC not any. This is not many. These rights and what is the message that James is conveying here the poor. He says those who are in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. That's very important.

The message is not if you will apply this wisdom, you will become rich. Look at the verse doesn't sit.

That's what said on television largely tonight all across the airwaves. When people in positions like myself telling people if you will do this, then you will get this you will become rich. As a result of doing this, I can guarantee you this. If you do this and this and so long. Actually what James says is not if you will do this you will become rich, but rather if you think about life from this perspective, you will realize that you are overlook where I live is your rich but if using my tax return is for your written is what he said it really is too bad that somehow or another in the last 50 years in Western Christianity, we have not only wrapped flags around the cross. But we have wrapped dollar bills around the cross and James cries out from the first century. No, no.

Secondly, it gives a word to the rich brother if the brother in humble circumstances or to take pride in his high position. What about the one who's in high position. The rich one will he should take pride in his low position. Okay what he saying here James, let's be clear about what is not saying he's not suggesting here there is any problem there, it is nice they say there's a problem with being poor. You noted that right isn't safe.

I feel dreadfully sorry for you want to try and get you sorted out will get you out of your predicament. Now he says the person is in humble circumstances should rejoice in their high position again.

You hear the echo the words of Jesus, the poor you will always have with you. That's not to say we don't do anything for the sake of the poor.

Jesus did much for the sake of the poor, but it is an acknowledgment of the fact of human existence, nor does he then suggest that there is anything wrong in possessing wealth.

He doesn't say where problem of the poor.

Therefore, to make you rich. We have a problem with the rich. Therefore going to make you poor is not some form of egalitarianism, not some kind of first century Jerusalem orientated Marxism know he acknowledges the place of the poor and since perspective is the way to deal with the Europe status and he acknowledges the location and significance of the rich, and he says perspective is the exact same way for you to deal with. If there's anything wrong and well it has to do with the misuse of wealth or of our propensity to depend upon wealth, as if somehow or another. That's where our security lies as we Jesus is saying about laying up treasures in heaven.

Make sure he says that you are investing in the one bank that guarantees you a significant return. You see this little word to the affluent.

In verse 10 and 11 is striking in its impact the affluent.

When applying this godly wisdom will come to see what would've come to see actually that riches are fleeting, that the sun rises with scorching heat and weathers the plan is probably a picture there of these winds that came down were they call the sirocco wins and with the vegetation in the right kind of rainfall there would be little green shoots that would spring up and people would see them and they would look out on them in their garden and they say this is a wonderful thing and it looks as though they're going to be here for a while and then one afternoon, just hot blast as if somebody had opened an oven door and that which had been there in the early hours of the day was obliterated by the time they went to bed and James says that the rich person better. Remember that it's not that the pollution remember, but he gives a particular word to those who are rich, reminding his readers that we are frail as a summer flower, the wind blows and it's gone but wealthy believers, says James or to cultivate a correct attitude to material possessions. If they're going to use them wisely. If we are going to use them generously, if were going to use them for kingdom business. James is not alone in this. Paul addresses it doesn't he remember when he urges upon Timothy. The importance of speaking with directness to those under his care. He says to him. Towards the end of his first letter command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for her and for our enjoyment. Command them to do good to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share in this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life the true riches can never be an earthly banks or vaults or portfolios.

Real wealth doesn't consist in the abundance of our possessions when we grasp this, then the poor man is able to look at is less than super circumstances and continue in the journey of faith because his eyes have been opened to all that is awaiting him in heaven. The rich man. By contrast, goes on with God. Despite all the temptations and all the snares that are directly related to the fact of his affluence, because in his case, God has opened his eyes to the hollowness of an earthly stuff so the wisdom of God comes to the poor man to show them the vastness of what he has in Christ and the wisdom of God comes to the rich man to show them the hollowness of everything that he might be tempted to use as a basis for significance is actually a very daunting areas and it is not easy to address speak about is actually relatively easy to pontificate on it's much harder to live.

There's no question that James comes down heavily on the side of the issue of the rich man. It's almost as if the brother of of low esteem gets off quite likely and we noted one man who got it wrong on the high-end.

The rich fool. I want to end with one man who got it wrong on the low end who a chap by the name of God has a destroyer attention to this and were through this where Ghazi comes into the scene is as the servant of the lies of the man of God. Naaman was a prosperous man.

You remember who had leprosy and he went to see the servant of God and as a result of his being cured offered him a bunch of stuff and Elisha says no I don't need a bunch of stuff I want except a thing. And even though Naaman urged him he refused, and guises with it and when this little scenario is concluded. And Elisha says go in peace, and Naaman had traveled some distance. Ghazi, the servant of the lies of the man of God said to himself.

My master was too easy on name in this era man by not accepting from him what he brought surely as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from so Ghazi hurried after Naaman were Naaman so I'm running towards them either down from the chariot to meet them. Is everything all right. He asked as all right as he answered my master flat out lie my master sent me to say to young man from the company of the prophets have just come to me from the old country event for him.

Could you please give them a talent of silver and two sets of clothing health course when you take to challenge said Naaman, and he urged Ghazi to accept the goods you guys got all not know. I didn't want to be or not it's original gimme three, giving no I think will revive that and Naaman ours and Gaia Ghazi at take two talents of silver to bags and two sets of clothes and give them to your true servants. And then he passed them on in the two servants walked ahead of them and Ghazi came to the hill and he took the things in the sermons and put them away in his house and he said the men away in the left and then he went in and stood before his master Elisha the great moments observe pregnant moment you see them coming in. Where have you been Ghazi Elisha asked all your servant and go anywhere. Ghazi answered the Elisha said to was not my spirit with you. When the man got down from his chariot to meet you.

Is this the time to take money except clothes all of Groves Vineyards flops Harrods.

Her menservants and maidservant what's up Ghazi, don't you like your position as a servant.

Don't you believe that God can look after you.

Do you really need to go chasing this guy down squirreling money out of Naaman's leprosy will cling to you and to your descendents forever and Ghazi went from Elisha's presence and he was leprous as white as snow. So paradoxically, not only can the week say their strong but the poor can see the rich in life of God's wisdom without Jesus and without the Bible and without the Holy Spirit, there is no way we can ever get to terms with this, and even when we studied it we still have to live it. So let's just pray to God will help us to live our goal as Christians is to live out the truth we find in God's word will be essential for us to rely on the wisdom from above you been listening to Alister Bragg today on Truth for Life. Alastair will be right back to close today's program with prayer or series in the book of James reminds us that the Bible is our source of illumination that the Bible says it's a lamp to our feet on the light to our path. We never outgrow our need for learning the truth found in God's word were also never too young to start learning what God's word says so if you are a parent or grandparent or someone who works with young children. You want to get a copy of a book called Bible stories every child should know this is a colorful book that retells the stories from Scripture that there are more than 120 stories in this collection so you will have new stories to be reading month after month requester copy of the book Bible stories every child should know when you give today. Just click the image you see on the app or you can call us at 888-588-7884. Now, here is Alastair to close with prayer.

Father, I think a big temptation and this is for us to try and apply it to the other person. So if we find ourselves on the role low end of the letter we want to be delayed to tell the people a few runs up this and this is what you're supposed to be doing, but an actual fight were supposed to look at ourselves in our lives. In light of the amazing provision you've made for us in Jesus. And for those of us who've been entrusted with the responsibility of that which is significant in financial terms, and when we think of probably a billion people in the world making less than a dollar a day. We had to be real clear about which side we fall down in this equation. So God since you've given us so much. Help us to not misuse it, or to depend upon it, but to use it in such a way that will be invested for the kingdom of God for lasting treasure kind of treasure that none but your children will ever know, we humbly pray in Jesus name on about the pain. Hope you enjoy your weekend. Hope you're able to worship together with your local church family, you'll definitely want to join us again Monday as we continue our study in the book of James and find out how we can know if our own faith is genuine. Bible teaching of Alister Bragg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living


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