“Faith In Riches Equals Misplaced Faith” By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

 Faith In Riches Equals Misplaced Faith

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

Scripture Readings: James 1

Key Verses: James 1:9-11;   And also: 1Timothy 6:10; Proverbs 11:28

“But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position; and let the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind, and withers the grass; and its flower falls off, and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.”

“For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang.”

“He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.”

The passage in James comes right after James writes about the man who doubts and does not trust in God’s wisdom when it is revealed to him. In Proverbs 11:28 we read: “He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.” The KEY WORD Study Bible (NASB) says that the word “trust” means to put one’s faith in something, to rely on it, as the word of God. So, the man who puts his faith in his money, his riches and his own ability to prosper misplaces his faith.

The Bible says a lot about money and often it talks about how the rich will not receive and the poor will receive when they go to heaven. But, I don’t think the scriptures mean to indicate that having abundance is a bad thing, for often God provides abundantly and beyond what people even expect from their own efforts. I believe that money is neutral and is a way of exchange. Before printed money we had trading and bartering. You helped someone with something they needed that you had the skill to do and they helped you with something you needed that they had and could provide with their means. It was trading and working together to get things done for the good of both parties. There is nothing evil in that.

However, when money or riches become a means of idolatry, a means of worship that takes the place of worshipping God, that is a problem. The scriptures that speak of it being nearly impossible for a rich man to go to heaven are likely talking about the rich man who is obsessed with his possessions and his money and who puts his faith and trust in his riches. Remember the rich man who encountered Jesus and said he wanted to follow Him, but when Jesus asked him to leave his riches behind, he couldn’t part with them. I believe that the rich man who is generous and pursues God first and puts his faith in God above all else is a righteous man who has his priorities straight and “will flourish like the green leaf.”

I think that those who have plenty have more options available to them and life may be easier for them because of that, so they may not feel the need to depend on God as much for their daily needs. When they rely on themselves and their wealth, they may not see their need for God and it is easy to “fall away.” When we really need, we are more likely to ask God for help. Thus, the poor man may be quicker to ask God for help.

Money itself is not evil—the passage in Proverbs is often misquoted. It is the “LOVE of money that is the root of all sorts of evil.” Idolatry is the problem. And it’s not just about money, but since the scripture addresses riches, I have focused on that for this writing. Any time we love someone or something more that we love God, we make a huge mistake. The point I mean to make is that where we place our faith and where we put our trust is critical—God says we need to put our faith in Him and to be unwavering in that faith, believing in faith that He can and will provide for our needs. The passage in James is about faith—the poor man who puts his faith in God and the rich man who puts his faith in God will both reap the rewards of their faith.

Prayer: Lord Jesus—Thank you for all that you provide. I know that if I need anything, I can ask for your help through prayer and you already know what I need, even before I ask. May I remember that everything belongs to you—I am only a steward of what belongs to you. May I always place my faith in you and not my own abilities or wealth. May I use my talents and my riches to your glory.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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