Stewardship of Riches

This year in our Sunday School lessons we are going through the books of James and Proverbs to look at the Practical Living from God’s Word.  What is located below are the high level points we discussed this week.  Please use this tool to follow up with your teens and see how they plan to apply this to their life.

James 5:1-6

So every year at this time of year we talk about stewardship principles around our church.  We begin by discussing the different areas of our life where we need to work on taking care of the things that God has given us.  Ironically our lesson today ties in well with this topic.

Here are the 4 principles of stewardship:

1. God owns everything, you own nothing.

2. God entrusts you with everything you have.

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given you; God wants you to increase it.

4. You can be called into account at any time, and it may be today.

What are some areas of life that teens should be good stewards of?

Today we are going to talk some time to look at some people who handled their finances in a wrong way.

Let me give a brief note here to say that there is nothing wrong with being wealthy.  It is fine to have money and nice possessions.  The issue is not about those things but about the motives for having those things and what you do with them.

Oppression by Wealth

 

So the people who characterize this group are the wealthy people.  They are driven by their own desires and their wealth helps them accomplish that as well as drives them to do it.  Let’s just take some time to look at the motives and the driving forces of the person who is driven by their current circumstances.

 

How they accumulated their wealth. (4, 6a)

The first problem we see is the way that these people in this particular passage received their wealth.  Even this process shows the corruptness of their heart.

They did not pay their workers (4)

These rich people were so in love with their money that they would make people work for them without even paying them for their labor.

These people were violating the very law of God.

“You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your countrymen or one of your aliens who is in your land in your towns. You shall give him his wages on his day before the sun sets, for he is poor and sets his heart on it; so that he may not cry against you to the Lord and it become sin in you” (Deut. 24:14–15, nasb).

“You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning” (Lev. 19:13, nasb).

“Woe to him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbor’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work” (Jer. 22:13).[1]

Obviously this shows a sign of the problem if they are not willing to pay those that work for them then their intention is obviously to get rich.

Using the Courts to their Favor (6a)

The courts in James’ day were apparently easy to control if you had enough money. The poor workers could not afford expensive lawsuits, so they were beaten down every time. The workers had the just cause, but they were not given justice. Instead, they were abused and ruined. (“Killed” should probably be taken in a figurative way, as in James 4:2, though it is possible that the rich men could so oppress the poor that the poor would die.) The poor man did not resist the rich man because he had no weapons with which to fight. All he could do was call on the Lord for justice.[2]

These rich people were just using their riches to keep the vicious cycle of mistreating others in order to keep their riches.

How do these problems of mistreating others in order to gain wealth have anything to do with you?

Are teens ever tempted to use others to get their selfish desires fulfilled?

What about in areas other than finances?

How they Used their Wealth

They stored it up (3)

The issue here is not with saving money or having something set aside for later in life.  The problem that is being addressed here is their desire to hoard things and to sit on it.

The picture of the gold and silver being corroded shows that this person was sitting on it for a long time.

Why would it not be wise to view our possessions as something to be hoarded?

What we possess and use are merely things, apart from the will of God. When we yield to His will and use what He gives us to serve Him, then things become treasures and we are investing in eternity. What we do on earth is recorded in heaven, and God keeps the books and pays the interest.

What a tragedy it is to see people “heap up treasures for the last days” instead of “laying up treasures in heaven.” The Bible does not discourage saving, or even investing; but it does condemn hoarding.[3]

They lived extravagant lives (5)

There is nothing wrong with being rich or living nice, but these guys were taking it to the extreme.

They were so focused on their stuff they did not even realize that they were living like a cow that is devouring his feed not knowing that tomorrow he will be a steak.

Jesus said, “Beware and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15, nasb).[4]

1 Timothy 6:17 (NASB95)

17 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.

What is the difference between having riches and living extravagantly?

What Happens to their Riches

They disappear (2-3)

James 5:2–3 (NASB95)

2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten.

3 Your gold and your silver have rusted;

Nothing you could ever view as treasure will last forever.

They destroy your testimony (3b)

James 5:3 (NASB95)

3 and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire.

When you gain possessions in the wrong way then you will lose your opportunity to glorify God through your life.

Conclusion

 

The reason it is important for us to talk about this even now is because we want you to begin thinking through the way that you are going to live life.  Are you going to live life like these rich people who used their money to oppress others in order to gain more wealth, or are you going to live life in a way that seeks to glorify God by whatever means he provides you?

Are the ways that you are living your life now in regards to how you treat others pointing to a future problem of using people and things to get your desires?

Again let’s review the principles of stewardship.

Here are the 4 principles of stewardship:

1. God owns everything, you own nothing.

2. God entrusts you with everything you have.

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given you; God wants you to increase it.

4. You can be called into account at any time, and it may be today.


basb New American Standard Bible

basb New American Standard Bible

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, vol. 2, The Bible Exposition Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 374-75.

[2] Warren W. Wiersbe, vol. 2, The Bible Exposition Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 375.

[3] Warren W. Wiersbe, vol. 2, The Bible Exposition Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 376.

basb New American Standard Bible

[4] Warren W. Wiersbe, vol. 2, The Bible Exposition Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 376.

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Johnny KjaerJohnny Kjaer
Johnny Kjaer oversees the Youth and Skatepark Ministries at Faith Church. He can often be found serving the community with the teenagers. His passion is to assist parents in training their teens to love the Lord. He and his wife, Tori, have three children; Leif, Tryggve, and Kjirsti.