Dear Church Family,
On Sunday we concluded our sermon series on the book of James. If you missed it you can listen to it here. In James chapter five he warns the church in Jerusalem and to us, the church of today, against the pitfalls of wealth.
Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, tells the story of how he once led a class on the “Seven Deadly Sins.” Many turned out for the topics of “Lust, Wrath and Pride,” but attendance plummeted on the week “Greed” was covered. Keller observed that many are quick to admit their struggles with pride, lust and anger etc., but few of us view ourselves as struggling with greed. Keller noted: “I cannot recall anyone ever coming to me and saying, ‘I spend too much money on myself. I think my greedy lust of money is harming my family, my soul, and people around me.’”
We tend to measure our wealth only by the wealth that surrounds us. We compare the size of our homes to the homes of our neighbors, the kind of car we drive to what our neighbor drives and the type of vacations we are able to afford to the types of vacations taken by those in our community. As a result, our idea of wealth becomes very narrow. There are many in our state, nation, and most certainly the rest of the world, who view us as living extravagant lifestyles even though we don’t see ourselves that way, as we are comparing our wealth to only the standards of wealth found in our neighborhoods.
We may come to believe that we don’t have more to give to those less fortunate or that we don’t have enough to give at all. Again, I don’t think James wants us to stop saving for our kids’ college tuition or for our retirement so that we can give all that money away. But what James is saying is that we all have an opportunity to be a part of God’s justice, comfort and provision for the poor and to those in need no matter how wealthy we perceive ourselves to be.
When we put Jesus Christ, and not our money at the center of our lives we gain perspective. We will have a more realistic view of our wealth and how our wealth can be a tool in helping those God calls us to love, help and comfort. James 5:7-11 does not advocate that the poor will finally be taken care of only when Jesus returns, for God cares about what is happening today. How might God be calling you today to share your wealth with those who are struggling?
Our church is great at supporting mission abroad and locally. I have no doubt that anyone on staff or on our Mission council would love to talk to you about how you could give to one of our church’s mission partners. In a couple of weeks is Blessing of the Backpacks Sunday when we will pray over kids who will soon be back at school, but we also will have the opportunity to pray for children that many of us sponsor through ministries like Partners in Mission and to begin sponsoring a child. Perhaps these are the first steps in how God might be calling you to share the wealth that you and that all of us have been blessed with.
Grateful to be on this journey of faith alongside you,
Kristine Aragon Bruce
Associate Pastor for Family Ministries