Rich Man, Poor Man

by Stan Mitchell
Here is some “wisdom” on wealth and poverty.
“It’s not a sin to be rich — it’s a miracle!”
“There’s nothing wrong with people possessing riches. The wrong comes when riches possess people.”
“The rich may not live longer, but it certainly seems like it to their poor relatives!”
“There are two ways of being rich. One is to have all you want, and the other is to be satisfied with what you have.”
“But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant. Its blossom falls, and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way the rich will fade away even while he goes about his business” (James 1:10,11).
The final quote gives genuine wisdom regarding the value of earthly possessions. It is not sinful to be rich. Abraham was, and Job and Solomon. They were all good people. It is sinful (and ill advised) to trust in riches. Perhaps it should be pointed out that even the poor can trust in riches. “If I can just spring this deal, then I’ll be really happy.”
We live in uncertain times. James urges us to value a man on the basis of his character, and not his bank account. Do you suppose that there were Christians in his day who equated importance with status symbols? What if brother So-and-so’s “Lexus” chariot crashed tomorrow? What if sister What’s-her-name lost everything in a fire? When their earthly stock fell, did they lose a share in heaven, too?
In God’s sight, we are all bankrupt. Our best deeds are but “filthy rags” (Zechariah 3:3). We are in reality “wretched, filthy, blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17). But that’s OK, because we know the correct outlet from which to buy things of lasting value. “I counsel you to buy from me,” The Lord Jesus urges us, “gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness, and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see” (Revelation 3:18).
May I suggest we return our currency to the “gold” standard?

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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