Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective

Malankara World Journal
Penta Centum Souvenir Edition
Volume 8 No. 500 October 14, 2018


Chapter - 26: Money/Finance

9 Wealth-Building Lessons From Billionaires by Mark Ford

One of the best ways you can create and maintain wealth is by following the lead of people who've already done so. About 33% of the very rich got their money through inheritance. The rest - two out of three - created their wealth through business. About half of those mega-entrepreneurs started with family money, and the other half started from scratch. ...

Financial Planning for the Birds by Jim Stovall

When it comes to money, we can all learn from our friends the birds. Most people among us know no way to survive financially other than flapping their wings through working at a job and living paycheck-to-paycheck. These people work hard and spend every penny they earn—and often a bit more—thanks to our culture of credit. ...

How To Be Your Own Economic Quarterback

Ultimately, each person must be his or her own best financial advocate. It may take a team of professionals in various fields to provide retirees with the good life, but individuals need to be their own most valuable player for their well-being. ...

Money Management Tips by Mike Finley

The importance of money is impressed upon most Americans as soon as we're old enough to buy candy. But the importance of money management is an entirely different story, says self-made millionaire Mike Finley. ...

Money and Wise Investments for the Future by Edward F. Markquart, Seattle

Have you been making good investments? Have you been planning for your retirement years? Have you been making shrewd investments with those dollars you have saved?  ...

Teaching Your Children About Money by Dave Ramsey

We need to teach our children intentionally about money. There are four main areas that our children need to learn....

The Money vs Happiness Debate by Valerie Young

My nephew Jason was pretty excited about starting college. "Do you have any idea what you'd like to do when you graduate?" I asked. "Something in the sciences," he said adding, "and where I can make a lot of money." "Is that all?" I asked. Jason paused for a moment before replying. "Well, I just hope I can find a job I don't hate too much." ...

What You Can Learn About Business Success and Wealth
From John E. Fetzer--Media Mogul, Philanthropist and Former Detroit Tigers' Owner
By Jackie Lapin

John E. Fetzer found as much joy in his quest for spiritual enrichment as he did in the wealth he acquired building a financial empire that ultimately made him the sole owner of the Detroit Tigers from 1961 to 1983 and put him on Forbes Magazine's list of 400 richest Americans. ...

Four Warnings to the Wealthy by Dr. Ray Pritchard

The Bible talks about money a lot. In the broadest sense, you can find something about money on almost every page of the Bible. Money is life, and life is money. Ecclesiastes 10:19 even says, “Money is the answer for everything.” Money isn't good or evil.It's what we do with money that matters...

Chapter - 26: Money/Finance

9 Wealth-Building Lessons From Billionaires

by Mark Ford

There is no shortage of billionaires today. In 1985, there were fewer than 20 of them. Today, there are more than 1,800.

As many as 536 of them are American. That's nothing to sneeze at. Nor is their collective net worth of around $2.5 trillion.

At the moment, the U.S. has the world's largest and most profitable economy. But, India and China are catching up. Their economies are growing fast.

And they are not wasting trillions of dollars on foreign wars.

One of the best ways you can create and maintain wealth is by following the lead of people who've already done so.

About 33% of the very rich got their money through inheritance. Take the Waltons (founders of Wal-Mart), for instance.

The rest - two out of three - created their wealth through business. About half of those mega-entrepreneurs started with family money, and the other half started from scratch.

These are the people - like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Sergey Brin, and Larry Page - who earned the wealth they have.

These are the people I'd listen to if I wanted advice on how to succeed today.

I don't know any of these billionaire entrepreneurs (BEs) personally, but I do know lots of multimillionaires - entrepreneurs, authors, professionals, and even a few successful artists.

And in my experience, they share the following traits with billionaires:

Most, but not all, have college degrees.

The great majority of BEs - about 90% - have college degrees. But it's not necessary for success. Among the world's super-rich today, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Fred DeLuca, David Geffen, and Andrey Melnichenko didn't graduate from college. And David Murdock (Dole Foods) and Richard Desmond (British publishing magnate) never finished high school.

That same percentage (90%) feels roughly true in terms of the most successful people I know. Those who lacked college educations were plenty smart and had the most important skills: thinking, writing, and speaking.

BEs work harder and longer than the people who work for them.

Most say they work 50-55 hours per week. Canadian communication mogul Ted Rogers worked 12 hours per day. And some, like Bill Gates (when he worked at Microsoft) and Jeff Skoll (dot-com legend and eBay's first president) took no vacations for years while their businesses were growing.

These days, I probably work about 60 hours per week, but when I was in my "growth" phase, I was working 80-plus hours and not taking vacations. Every successful person I know works long and works hard. But, I do know a few people who seem to be able to have some balance in their lives.

Bill Bonner, for example, has always kept his weekends free for building stone walls or repairing roofs on his various global mansions. But he works 16 hours per day Monday through Friday.

BEs are constantly looking for profit opportunities.

When they hear about an economic or business development, they don't hear it as some bit of abstract news about someone else. Instead, they think, "How could I profit from that?"

In this respect, you'd have to say BEs are self-centered. Like all super-successful people, they are constantly relating the facts of their lives back to their personal careers. I can't get through a magazine, any magazine - even one about architecture or science - without having these sorts of personal profit questions pop into my mind.

BEs don't dwell on mistakes.

They view problems as learning opportunities. "I don't remember any mistakes," late pharmaceutical billionaire James Sorenson told Forbes, "only opportunities to overcome problems."

I know some successful people who DO dwell on mistakes - mistakes made by other people. Usually, people who work for them. But, these same people are quick to forgive themselves. I used to beat myself up over mistakes, but I eventually got over them.

I realized it's not about having a perfect batting average... it's about how many times you get up to the plate.

BEs think neither completely positively nor negatively, but strategically.

Instead of thinking, "That's impossible," or "I can do anything," they think, "Is that possible?" and "If it is, how could I do it?" This is a big point.

Most people, when they hear a new idea, think immediately about all the problems it might cause, or how difficult it might be to implement, or what obstacles one might have to overcome. When I see smart businesspeople doing this, I think to myself, "These people will never get beyond a certain point. They are limited by these instinctively negative mindsets."

When someone suggests an idea to me, I try to shut down the critical part of my mind and listen to the potential of the idea. If my positive mind likes the potential, then I allow the critical part of my brain to raise questions and concerns. I then use both sides of my brain to come up with answers and solutions.

BEs don't believe in luck.

In a recent Forbes poll of the 400 richest people in the world, none said they had become wealthy entirely by luck. Some said they considered luck to be a minor factor.

Most, like Oprah Winfrey, consider luck an outsider's way of describing someone who works hard and seizes opportunity. "Luck," Winfrey says, "is preparation meeting a moment of opportunity."

BEs are not driven primarily by money.

"Studies show the desire for financial success is no stronger among entrepreneurs than among those not starting a company," says entrepreneur expert Kelly Shaver.

Wharton School management professor Raphael Amit agrees: "No one is saying they don't like their wealth. What matters more is the innovation, the intense commitment they have to an idea, and the difference it can make. Money is a byproduct." I find this to be 100% true.

BEs are motivated primarily by challenge.

They want to prove something - all kinds of things. They want to prove they are smart and their ideas are good and their critics are wrong. They want to show the world there is a place for better products and better services and things done the way they believe they should be done. These are their primary motivators.

But, don't fool yourself. The BE wants to get paid. He wants every dollar he's entitled to. If you try to deny him that money, you will lose him.

BEs make friends.

Business is never about money. Business is about people. It's about who you know and who you trust. Billionaires work within their circles to get things done.

BEs know they can't do anything alone.

Instead, they create important partnerships, and work with these partners to collaborate on great projects. Most importantly, they remember to give credit where it's due.

If you want to survive and prosper in the 21st century, emulate the habits of the world's richest people.

Educate yourself about money.

Make conservative investments. And seize opportunities to start and/or invest in entrepreneurial businesses.

Source: Palm Beach Daily Edited by J. Reeves, July 27, 2015

Financial Planning for the Birds

by Jim Stovall

Birds are among the most fascinating creatures on earth. Bird watching is one of the most popular hobbies. I believe people enjoy watching birds because birds have mastered the art of flight. Most birds are able to fly, but they do it in different ways.

Birds are able to propel themselves through thin air by using three different methods of flight. Most birds achieve flight by flapping their wings. This great effort on their part causes them to have enough momentum so that the air flowing under their wings creates lift. Some birds, after they have flapped their wings for a period of time, are able to glide. They can, in essence, coast using the momentum they have previously generated by flapping their wings. The most elite performers and the rarest in the bird world are able to soar. These enlightened creatures, through understanding air currents and thermals, are able to use the environment around them and their understanding of it to fly for hours and many miles with very little or no effort on their own part.

When it comes to money, we can all learn from our friends the birds.

Most people among us know no way to survive financially other than flapping their wings through working at a job and living paycheck-to-paycheck. These people work hard and spend every penny they earn—and often a bit more—thanks to our culture of credit.

Then there are the individuals who have flapped their financial wings long enough to save a few dollars so they can glide for a relatively brief period of time on the income that their previous effort has brought them. While this is better than frantically flapping through your entire financial life, there is still a far better way to travel.

There are a few elite financial birds among us who have mastered the art of soaring. They started out by working hard for their money while they were learning how to make their money work hard for them. These successful financial flyers can use the financial environment around them via interest, dividends, and capital gains much like the eagles use wind currents and thermals to reach heights others cannot even imagine.

The next time you decide to go bird watching, don’t forget the financial lessons our feathered friends can teach us.

As you go through your day today, commit to soaring financially like the eagles.

Today’s the day!

About Jim Stovall

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. ...

Source: Wisdom for Winners, Volume Three

How To Be Your Own Economic Quarterback

You Need To Be The MVP Every Year, Financial Planner Says

After a lifetime of earning and saving, one might expect a comfortable and financially secure retirement, especially with a reliable financial advisor – right?

"Life is rarely that simple or black-and-white and, unfortunately, neither is the financial realm," says Bryan S. Slovon, founder and CEO of Stuart Financial Group in Greenbelt, MD (

"Perhaps the arithmetic of personal wealth should be much simpler, but like it or not, the rules of economics are riddled with fine print, unexpected or inadequately explained conditions, and loopholes."

Further complicating matters are various professionals in the financial industry. Whether or not a professional means well, the fact remains that many are actually trying to sell products, he says.

"It's worth reflecting on where your advisor is coming from," Slovon says. "If they are not fully independent – as in not working for a large institution – their advice may be biased toward sales."

Ultimately, each person must be his or her own best financial advocate. It may take a team of professionals in various fields to provide retirees with the good life, but individuals need to be their own most valuable player for their well-being. Slovon reviews basic measures to quarterback your life to financial wellness.

Listen to your doctor … so to speak.

If you want to enjoy your golden years, good health is arguably the most important step – and it's cost-effective.

"More specifically, doctors often tell patients that they can be of service only in as much as patients are doing their part for good health," Slovon says. "A healthy diet, exercise, regular doctor's visits, etc. are necessary. These things help provide good health. A similar kind of vigilance is required if you want to fully enjoy your money in retirement."

Audit your current and future expenses; spell out your plan.

If you don't have a plan for your money then you're just hoping for things to work out. You can do better than that, even though changes in your plan will likely occur at some point. The most basic aspect of a financial plan includes understanding your current budget, which could be compared to expenses expected in the future. The more technical side of things, such as how to save on taxes and make your money go further, would benefit from analysis by a truly independent financial advisor.

Focus on your taxes, and perhaps tax-favored investments.

An important part of understanding your budget, and making it work better for you, is getting reliable professional analysis on your tax situation. You may be paying much more than is necessary. If you are expecting to retire in the near future, you may especially benefit from analysis of your tax budget.

Also, ask about investments that are tax-exempt and tax-deferrable. These include municipal bonds and certain money market funds, which provide a way to grow money that's exempt from federal taxes.

"Most of us give our lives to our work and families our entire adult lives," Slovon says. "If you're nearing or in retirement, it's time to focus on you. That means you'll need at least some professional financial help. However, you are the best person to oversee your own economic fate."

About Bryan Slovon

Bryan Slovon is the founder and CEO of Stuart Financial Group,  a boutique financial planning firm exclusively serving retirees and soon-to-be retirees in the District of Columbia metro area. He currently holds his Series 65 license and is a Registered Financial Consultant as well as a Comprehensive Wealth Manager offering investment advisory services. ...

Money Management Tips

by Mike Finley

Why Your Financial Advisor is Probably Not Your Friend

Who to Trust & What to Avoid in Learning About Money Management

The importance of money is impressed upon most Americans as soon as we're old enough to buy candy. But the importance of money management is an entirely different story, says self-made millionaire Mike Finley.

"Think about all that we do to prepare children for the world; we fill them up with things we think are most important for doing well as adults and spend tens of thousands of dollars for higher education, but they never take a class on how to manage personal finances," says Finley, author of "Financial Happine$$," (, which discusses his journey to financial literacy and applying the principles that allowed him to retire from the Army a wealthy man.

"Our culture celebrates privacy and self determination, which is why, I think, we don't want to tell students how they should spend their money, but I think young people are hungry for guidance."

Seventy-six percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, according to a recent CashNetUSA survey. That percentage varies with other studies; however, the percentage never dips below at least 50 percent of Americans who have very little in savings, says Finley, whose voluntary night class on financial literacy at the University of Northern Iowa is always packed beyond capacity.

Finley identifies your best allies -- and the voices that do not have your best interests at heart – when it comes to money management:

Do trust:

Your No. 1 advocate – you: "It's not simply how much money you make, it's what you do with it," Finley says. The best thing you can do right now is to educate yourself so you can make sound financial decisions. A great start is to embrace the concept of paying yourself: Put away at least 20 percent of your income for your future, which requires a lifestyle of living below your means.

Real teachers -- Most people want something from you, but some truly want to give. Finley, who regularly volunteers instructional time to veterans, current military personnel and youth, says to identify the people you can trust, who sincerely want to educate you. Look for classes at local colleges; workshops sponsored by nonprofit organizations, and even websites geared to improving your money decisions, including, and


Most financial advisors -- If you want to learn about a car you're thinking about buying, would you go to the car salesman trying to earn commission or an objective third party? A salesman wants your money, but Consumer Reports, for example, has to earn the public's trust with objective, reliable information. Most financial advisors, especially those employed by massive, nationwide firms, are trying to sell prepackaged financial products. Independent advisors are a better option, but if you're financially illiterate, it can be hard to determine whether or not they have your best interests at heart.

Advertisements -- Advertisers are not just selling products – they're trying to sell happiness. What do you see in commercials for iPads and tablets? You see young, exuberant, smart-looking and stylish people. Nearly from the cradle, we're exposed to advertising messages that promise we'll be happier, better people if we purchase the products and services advertised. But an iPad won't make you more exuberant or stylish. Learn to view advertising messages with a discriminating eye so that you purchase what you truly need – not what they tell you to need.

About Mike Finley

Like most Americans, Mike Finley was raised with no education in personal finances. Joining the Army out of high school, he realized he didn't understand money and began the task of educating himself. After 26 years in the service, while practicing the money management principles he learned, he retired a millionaire. Finley is the author of "Financial Happine$$," ( and teaches a popular financial literacy class at the University of Northern Iowa. He donates much of his time to additional groups, including Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa and organizations serving veterans and current military personnel.

Money and Wise Investments for the Future

by Pastor Edward F. Markquart, Seattle

Gospel: Luke 16:1-13

Have you been making good investments? Have you been planning for your retirement years? Have you been making shrewd investments with those dollars you have saved?

When a person reaches a certain age and I am not sure what age it is, a person starts to think about retirement. We then ask ourselves, "How much money is needed for retirement?" Basically, people ask two questions: "How much money will I need to retire comfortably?" The second question is, "Will I be able to die in dignity?" If we are honest, most of us don't want to die in poverty or in the slums or in one of the poorest of poor retirement homes.

Have you been making plans? Have you been making plans for your long-term future?

The Presidential Commission on Retirement informs us that you will need about seventy percent of your present to live a similar life style. If you like your present lifestyle and it costs you about $50,000, then in retirement you are going to need about seventy percent of that. In other words, you are going to need about $35,000 to retire comfortably.

The Presidential Commission on Retirement says that are three resources for our income of the future: Social Security, the retire program from your place of employment, and your savings account.

Are you making long term plans? For your long term future? Is that important to you?

Well, let's first talk about Social Security. From reading the paper, we know that many of us are worried about the future viability of Social Security. We know that in the distant future, Social Security benefits will be reduced. We know that there are enormous numbers of workers who are retiring now. In ten to twenty years, it appears that there will not be a sufficient number of workers in the workforce to pay for the huge number of people who have previously retired. In the future, there will be vast numbers receiving Social Security and there will be fewer people in the workforce to fund Social Security.

Yes, we are worried about the future viability of the Social Security programs.

Now, a second major source of income for your retirement is the retirement program of your corporation. We live in Seattle. Seattle is Boeing country; it is Weyerhaeuser country; it is Microsoft country; it is the airlines country. But are you aware that seventy percent of the people living in the United States of America do not work for a major corporation? Are you aware that seventy percent of the people working in America do not have a pension program through their corporation? Do you realize that? How would you feel about it if you were planning for your retirement and all you had to count on was Social Security?

Well, the third source of retirement income is savings. We know that Americans are notoriously poor savers. Not many Americans have saved enough money to pay the bills of their future retirement. Compared to the other industrialized democracies, Americans are very poor at saving financial resources for the future.

Are you making plans? Are you making plans for your long-term future? Are you? Are you thinking about that?

We know that many Americans are living much longer today, and we are becoming much older as a country. The average age of an American male is now approaching seventy- eight years old. This has increased three years during the past twenty years. There are numerous members of our congregation, primarily women, who are now ninety to ninety-five years old.

And many of these elderly; in fact, most elderly in the United States cannot afford to live in the nice retirements that are near our church such as Wesley Terrace, Wesley Gardens, Judson Park or the Foundation House. Most Americans cannot afford to live in fine retirement homes such as these or their equivalents.

Are you going to die with dignity? Are you sure? Are you sure that when the end of your life comes that you are not going to end up in bankruptcy and living in poverty?

Are you making plans for your long-term future?

It is with this mood that we approach the gospel story for today. The basic thrust of the gospel story is this: Are you making plans for your long-term future? That is, are you making plans for your long-term future…with God?

O yes, we spend all kinds of time worrying about what is going to happen between sixty-five and eighty-five. We spend all kinds of time worrying about what is going to happen for those twenty years, but are we equally thoughtful about those twenty light years in the future with God? Are you planning for your loooooonnnnggg term future? Are you shrewd? Are you really shrewd?

Are you concerned about laying up for yourselves treasures on earth for your retirement? Are you equally concerned about laying up for yourselves treasures in heaven for your eternal retirement? Are you all concerned about maintaining for yourself an earthly inheritance which your kids are going to waste away anyhow? Are you equally concerned about laying up for yourselves a heavenly inheritance, an eternal inheritance? Are you shrewd? Are you wise? Are you planning for your looooooonnnnnggg term future? Your looooooonnnngggg term investments for the twenty light years that you are going to live with God face to face? That is what the gospel story for today is all about.

Before we approach the gospel story for today, we need to remind ourselves that this parable is one of the most difficult parables of Jesus to interpret. Most often, the meaning of Jesus' parables are clearer than clear. The very nature of Jesus' parables is their simplicity and clarity. But this particular parable for today is " more obscure than obscure." We need to remember that this gospel lesson for today is a very, very difficult passage to interpret, and that there are many differing interpretations of this obscure passage.

It has taken me many years, but I think that I am finally beginning to understand this particular parable for today. After all these years. This morning I would like to help you to understand this parable as well.

A fundamental presupposition of all Biblical studies is to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. When you delve into a complex story in the Bible, you try to find other Bible verses on a similar theme. The gospel lesson for today is complex and obscure so it is wise to look at other similar passages in the Gospel of Luke and see if those clearer Bible verses can help us interpret this more obscure Bible passage in today's gospel.

Do you realize that one out of seven Bible passages from the Gospel of Luke, where our text comes from today, is about money? There are more passages in the Gospel of Luke about money than there are about marriage, sex or family values. There is more about money than any other topic in the Gospel of Luke. Why? Why is there so much about money in the Gospel of Luke? It is because all human beings have a hard time handling money. Money usually handles us.

Also, in the Gospel of Luke, money is always referred to as "unrighteous mammon." In other words, it is always "dirty money." There is something about money that corrupts every one. I will say that again so that you hear me clearly. There is something about money that corrupts every single human being. Just as cocaine always corrupts. Just as a bad blood transfusion always corrupts. Just as pornography always corrupts. So also, there is something about money, according to the Bible, which corrupts every human being. It is the very nature of money to corrupt us and control us. Soon, we begin to live in order to accumulate money and what it can buy. Whenever the term, "money," is used in the Gospel of Luke, it is always dirty money. It is always sinful money. It is always corrupted money.

The story for today is unlocked by all those Bible verses about money in the same chapter as our gospel lesson, in Luke 16.

In Luke 16, there are five consecutive stories about money. Boomp. Boomp. Boomp. Boomp. Boomp. The story for today is one of five consecutive teachings about money. These stories try to teach us Christians the proper use of money. Our particular parable today is also trying to teach us about the proper use of money for Christians.

Within this sequence of five stories about money, it is the last story which is the most powerful. That story (next week's gospel) unlocks the meaning of this parable today. Do you know what the next parable is in Luke? It is the rich man and Lazarus. Yes, the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man thought he was so smart because he planned for his economic future. The rich man thought he was so smart because he planned vigorously for his twenty years of economic retirement here on earth. The rich man thought he was so smart because he had built barns and bigger barns, thinking his future was secure. And? And? And he ended up in hell. The rich man did not plan for his looooooonnnnnggg term future. The rich man wasn't so smart after all…because he ended up in hell.

As I said a few moments ago, this parable for today is very complex. Even so, I want to ask you that simple question: Are you making plans for your looooonnnnggg future? I hope you are. Are you smart? Are you shrewd? It would be a fool who did not plan for his/her loooonnnnnggg term future. The rich man in next week's parable did not plan for his long term future.

And neither did the man who built barns and bigger barns and the biggest barns you ever saw, falsely thinking that his future was secure (Luke 12). Earlier, Luke had told the story of another rich man who planned his retirement by building barns and still bigger barns. The rich man said to himself, "I have ample goods laid up for many years. Eat, drink and be merry." But God said to him, "Fool. This night your soul shall be required of you. You have laid up treasures for yourself but you are not right towards God." (Luke 12:16-21)

How about your loooonnnggg term future? Did the rich man with Lazarus plan for his looooonnnnnggg term future? No. Did the other rich man who built all the barns plan for his looooonnnggg term future? No.

At this time, I would like to retell Jesus' parable but I would like to put it into a contemporary setting.

Once upon a time, there was a very wealthy man and his name was Bill Gates. He was one of the wealthiest men the world had ever seen. In fact, he was the wealthiest man in the United States of America and even in all the earth. He had made hundreds of billions of dollars from computers and software. He had many high level managers whom he entrusted to care for the various divisions of his companies.

Now, one of his high level mangers was a man by the name of Johnny Christian. Johnny Christian was one of the top-level managers there at Microsoft but he wasn't a very good manager. Johnny Christian was losing all kinds of money for Bill Gates. One day, Bill Gates said, "Johnny Christian. You need to come into my office." Johnny Christian came. Gates continued, "Johnny Christian. You are not doing a very good job. In fact, you are doing a lousy job. You are fired. I'm giving you a thirty-day notice and you are out of here."

As Johnny Christian closed the door to Bill Gate's office and walked down the hall all alone, he was deeply upset. He thought to himself: "What am I going to do? I can't go out and work with my hands. I am a white-collar guy. What will I do? Hmmmm. I know what I will do."

And so he telephoned many of the people who owed money to Bill Gates. He said to the first, "You owe Bill Gates one hundred million dollars?" "Yes." "Well, you write out a check for fifty million and your debt will be paid in full." Remember me in the future. Maybe I can work for you someday." Johnny Christian telephoned the next guy and asked, "How much money do you owe Bill Gates?" He answered, "Ten million bucks." Johnny said, "Write out a check for five million bucks and we will call it even. Remember, that you and I are friends for the future." Johnny Christian then telephoned the third person and asked, "How much do you owe Bill Gates?" He replied, "I owe him a million dollars." Johnny Christian told him to write out a check for $500,000 and said, "Remember me in the future."

Jesus then concluded the parable, a story with a symbolic meaning, by saying, "I commend the dishonest money manager for his shrewdness. For the children of this generation are more shrewd in dealing with money than are the children of light. The sons and daughters in the marketplace are more shrewd in dealing with earthly money than are God's sons and daughters in dealing with their eternal salvation."

Then Jesus gave a key line, "Make for yourselves friends by use of dirty money, so when it is gone, you may be received into eternal life." … Make friends for yourselves by means of dirty money, so that when it is gone, you will be received into eternal life. Be wise and shrewd in dealing with your eternal spiritual assets as people in the market are wise and clever in dealing with their earthly financial assets.

So what does this parable mean?

Well, how does one go about using dirty money? How does a Christian go about using dirty money and at the same time, pleasing God? That is the question. Basically, the answer is this: the way you please God is by using dirty money in order to give generously and excessively to the poor, the hungry, the starving and the homeless of the world. You want to make friends with God? You want to please God? One way that you do it is with right use of wealth. The right use of wealth, according to Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, is to help the poor, the hungry, and the starving. That is the way that you make friends with God and please God according to this text.

You lay up for yourself treasures in heaven by sharing with the poor and the oppressed. You lay up treasures for yourself on earth by hording and spending your income on yourself.

Let me illustrate. Last Sunday in the children's sermon it was so clear. There was a big mob of children up in front of the church. And I had this mob of children all shouting and wailing at the top of their voices, "I am hungry. I am hungry. I am hungry." The mobs of children up front just kept on shouting and wailing that refrain again and again. "I am hungry. I am hungry. I am hungry." The children were shrieking at the top of their lungs and it was awful. Now, over at the side of the chancel area, I had three kids chanting proudly, "I am full. I am full. I am full." Both sets of children were chanting their lines at the top of their lungs. I then turned and addressed the congregation, saying above the clamor of the shouting voices of the children, "I am God and these are all my children. Do you want to please me? Do you want to make friends with me??? Then feed my hungry children." … Do you understand? Do you understand how to make friends with me? Do you understand how to please me? You feed my hungry children.

That is what this gospel story is all about. Make friends with God by making use of unrighteous mammon is to feed the poor, the hungry and the starving. Please God by helping the lives of the poor around us and in the world.

Now, there are many people who live a life of generosity. There are many people in our congregation and throughout the earth who understand that God has given us money to be generous to the needy, the poor and the starving. Many of you are making wise investments for the future. You give to the Lutheran Compass Center in downtown Seattle, to Catholic Charities, to Lutheran World Relief, to the Children's Orphan Fund, to the Mexico Orphanage, to the Grace Homeless Shelter, to the World Hunger Program and the list goes on and on.

For example, recently, I went out to the airport to see Lou Overbo and Harold LaDuke off to Haiti. Those guys were so proud. They both had two suitcases, seventy-five pounds each, loaded fully with medicines that they were taking to Haiti and to the medical clinic that they had helped build down there in Jamaica. From the past, I have fond memories of Lou Overbo when he sat in a front pew for five years before he ever joined this congregation. Before Lou ever came to the adult membership class, someone badgered him into going to Haiti. Those trips to Haiti changed Lou's life. Out at the airport, Lou said to me, "Anne Markley told me. Lou, be careful. If you go to Haiti, God may get his hands on your heart." God did. Lou works for the gas company here in south Seattle and the gas company had a meeting recently. Lou told his friends at the gas company that he was going on a Christian mission to Haiti and he would like his friends to give money for the mission. Lou said to his friends, "This is something you want to do." Lou didn't realize it, but in his own simple way, he was making investments for his loooooonnnnnggg term future. By his work for the people of the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere, Lou has been laying up for himself treasures in heaven. Of course, he doesn't think of it that way.

Are you smart? Are you a thinking person? Do you plan for your future? Are you planning for your looooonnnnggg term future?

I like the truth of the quotation: "A person's true wealth is not in what they keep but in what they give away."

Some years ago, I watched a political advertisement for a presidential candidate. His name was Ross Perot and he had these big, wide ears that stuck out of the side of is head. On that paid political advertisement, Ross Perot brought several charts that described economic life in America. One of his charts fascinated me and I remember it clearly. That chart showed the level of poverty of our nation's children compared to the levels of poverty of children living in other European democracies. What percentage of the children who lived in European democracies were poor? About five to seven percent. What percentage of American children were poor? About 20%. The USA? 20%. No industrialized democracy was even close to the high number of 20% of American children living in poverty. Then Ross Perot said, with his big ears wagging, "It ain't right, folks."

The Bible says, "It ain't right folks. It is unjust that 20% of American children live in poverty."

The Bible would say it more strongly. "God will punish any nation which does not take care of its own children." Just as in individual is accountable to God and God says to individuals, "How are you planning for your looooonnnnng term future and how are you taking care of the poor?" So also a nation will stand before God and will be asked questions of accountability. The United States will stand before the throne of God and God will ask, "How come 20% of your children were poor? Why did you allow that to happen?"

Are you making plans for your loooonggg term future? Are you smart? Are you shrewd? Are you planning for twenty years or twenty light years? Where do you put your energy?

I like that story by William Barclay, the New Testament scholar. Like all parables, it has its essential truth but a person can become tripped up with the loopholes. And so with the following story. I have taken Barclay's story and massaged it.

This parable is one of those "got up to heaven and was met at the pearly gate by Simon Peter" stories. One time, Johnny Christian died and he went up to heaven. Johnny Christian came up to the pearly gates and said, "Hi Simon Peter. I'm Johnny Christian." Peter said, "O, am I glad to see you. Come on in through these pearly gates and I will show you around." Johnny Christian said, "Where is my house up here? Where am I going to live?" Peter said, "Hop in my car and I will give you a ride to your destination." They pulled out in the car and drove through a neighborhood with some of the fanciest houses that Johnny Christian had ever seen. He thought to himself, "This is what heaven is all about. Big mansions." Johnny Christian loved those palatial palaces, especially those that were on the lake. As they drove by the mansions, Johnny Christian was carefully looking at the names listed on the mailboxes but he didn't see his name of any of those fancy mailboxes. Peter continued driving right through that fancy neighborhood and drove into a lesser neighborhood. That neighborhood had little three bedroom bungalows with white picket fences and campers in the back yards. Johnny Christian was again looking carefully at all the mailboxes of these smaller modest homes but Johnny couldn't see his name. Peter's car then drove further outside of town to a slightly run down apartment complex. This run down apartment complex had a long wall of mailboxes out in the parking lot, but Johnny couldn't find his name on any of those mailboxes in the parking lot. Hmmm. Simon Peter and Johnny continued driving and drove and drove until they came to a lot near the edge of a garbage dump in heaven. And there was an old tar shack. Simon Peter pulled up to that old tar shack and there was the name of Johnny Christian on an old dilapidated mailbox. The name, "Johnny Christian," was right there on the side of the mailbox. Johnny Christian said, "Simon Peter, I kind of liked it back there in the neighborhood with all the mansions on the lake or even the three roomed bungalows with white picket fences. But what's going on here?" Peter said, "Johnny Christian, we used all the material that you sent up here to heaven. That is all that you sent up when you were living down there on earth."

This parable by Barclay has its obvious loopholes, its ambiguities and its inconsistencies, but the question still persists: "Are you smart? Have you been sending good building material for your llllooooooonnnnggg term retirement?"

One thing that gets in the way of many people in a sermon like this is they say to themselves, "I am a good Christian. I know for a fact that salvation is a pure gift. Don't talk to me about rewards."

Now, one of the complexities of life is that you can talk about unconditional love and you can talk about rewards at the same time. For example, at our home, my wife and I freely love our children. There is nothing that they could do to stop us from loving them. Our children are loved no matter what. Love is given and given and given. At the same time at our house, there are rewards and punishments. That's just the way it is. At our house, if you mow the lawn, you get a reward. If you mouth off to your mother, you get a punishment. There are rewards and punishments at our house but there is also the free gift of unconditional love. And so it is God's grand design. God gives us the gift of eternal life which is unmerited and unearned, but God also has rewards and punishments.

Are you shrewd? Are you making plans for your looooonnnnnggg term future? How is your investment program? Are you laying up for yourselves treasures in heaven? Amen.

Teaching Your Children About Money

Change Your Family Tree

by Dave Ramsey

Proverbs 22:6
"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it."

Our children are always watching us, whether we realize it or not. There is a Native American saying: "Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand." Our children are going to model our handling of money. The most important thing we as parents can do is to straighten up ourselves and show them what we are doing and why we are doing it. Jump Start says that 94 percent of children learn their money management skills from their parents.

We need to teach our children intentionally about money. There are four main areas that our children need to learn.

1. Work
2. Saving
3. Spending Wisely
4. Giving

Each of these categories is handled differently for each age group. Our children need to understand that work is how money is made. There has to be an emotional and intellectual connection between work and money. Because of this I don’t like to use the word "allowance." Instead, pay "commissions." Life will not make an "allowance" for you, but it will pay you what you earn. Work, get paid; don’t work, don’t get paid. Work, eat; don’t work, don’t eat. Even the Bible says this.

Saving is how you control some of your circumstances and how you can buy big purchases since you don’t want to teach your children to borrow money. Goal setting is very important when you are saving. If you involve your children in this goal, it can be a fun learning experience.

Spending is done differently when you are spending money you earn. It’s also one of the rewards of discipline saving and working; it can be a celebration of a goal reached. When spending occurs in this way the child’s self-esteem is maximized, because he did it. There is a sense of accomplishment, of a job well done.

Giving is precious to watch when children are young and fulfilling to watch as they grow into adulthood. Giving makes kids less self-centered. Giving brings your kids depth of character. Those who never give become shallow, self-centered, and miserable adults.

3-6 years old

When I was suggesting that kids work to earn commissions, I’m not talking about Hitler’s boot camp for money. Those of us who have little ones know the definition of cleaning the room is that we do everything except the one or two toys they actually put in the toy box, but the small child gets all the credit for cleaning the room. Give them small chores at this age with which you assist and them give them all the credit. "Commission" needs to be paid on the spot. They need to have instant "atta boys" and money for work. This allows them to make the emotional connection and they are more willing to do the chore next time. The same goes true for saving. Keep the goals short. When they save for the small toy, they get to buy it. They’ll get a tremendous sense of pride. When children are small, use a clear container for saving their money, so they can register visually the saving going up, and the spending bringing their balance down. This age typically can’t do percentage systematic giving. Let it be spontaneous. Just let your child grab some cash from his jar for Children’s Church. He will beam.

6-13 years old

The temperament of the child will dictate what he or she can do in relation to money. Since you pay your child only if he works, you need a tracking system. Try using a dry-erase board placed on the front of the refrigerator to list the chores and how much will be paid for each one. At this age we suggest $5 per week for five chores: simple things like clearing dishes, feeding the dog, keeping the room clean. These are things you would expect anyway, but paying a commission for them gives you teachable moments about money and work. Some chores should be done with no pay because you are part of the family, but if they are all done that way, there are no teachable money moments. Little Jack doesn’t "feel the pain" of the movie ticket if the sweat of his brow isn’t associated with money. Once the work is done have a pay day. At this age, pay day should be once a week.

Whatever their age, it’s never too late to start teaching kids how money works. We need to love our children enough to lead them well. We’re not always going to be perfect, but we should always look for an opportunity to teach them.

Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. More than 1.5 million families have attended Financial Peace University in more than 30,000 churches nationwide. He’s authored four New York Times best-selling books: Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover and EntreLeadership. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 5 million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations.

Source: Live It Devotional

The Money vs Happiness Debate

by Valerie Young

It is a Good and Beautiful Thing

Work is good. It's one of the most important ways in which we can help the world, add value to others, and get fulfillment in life. Do not shy away from it. You can even use work to be happy. It doesn't have to be one or the other. Do you think it does? Today, Valerie Young takes up the great work debate.

Craig Ballantyne

"Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it." - Buddha

The Great Work Debate: Money Vs. Happiness

By Valerie Young

My nephew Jason was pretty excited about starting college. "Do you have any idea what you'd like to do when you graduate?" I asked. "Something in the sciences," he said adding, "and where I can make a lot of money." "Is that all?" I asked. Jason paused for a moment before replying. "Well, I just hope I can find a job I don't hate too much."

Time for a little auntie-to-nephew pep talk, I thought. "You have your whole life before you," I said, "don't you think you should be shooting higher than just short of misery?" Jason looked confused. "What should I be shooting for?" It was becoming obvious I was going to have to spell it out. "Satisfaction, fulfillment, you know - HAPPINESS!"

By the look on my dear nephew's face I knew he wasn't buying it. This got me thinking about the great debate raging inside many working adults today: Money vs. Happiness.

Money: 10 - Happiness: 2

At 41, my friend Eva is not rich, but she does earn a very good salary as a human resources manager in a federal agency. She has a closet full of clothes, owns a great house, drives a shiny new car and can afford in-home care for her two children. Last year she and her family rented a beach house for two weeks.

By all accounts, Eva should be happy, right? Wrong.

Eva works in one of those high-stress, need-it-yesterday type jobs. (Sound familiar?) Like a lot of people, she longs for the good old days. A mere decade ago, giving your employer a highly productive eight or nine hour day meant you were a dedicated employee. Give up a lunch hour once a week, come in on a Saturday once every few months and you were on a fast track to the top. How things have changed.

For Eva, career advancement isn't even on the agenda. Instead, she's just trying to stay afloat in the rising workflow rapids. Employees are expected to arrive before 8 a.m., work through lunch and often through dinner. On those rare occasions when she needs to leave by 6 p.m., Eva feels compelled to apologize for having to "skip out early."

Then there's personal time - what's left of it that is. Tethered to her job by technology and the new "ever available" work ethic, Eva is expected to pick up voice and email messages from home, put in time on the weekends and check into the office during vacation. To say that Eva is unhappy would be an understatement.

Oh, but did I mention she makes a great salary?

Why There Is More To It

No one in his or her right mind sets out to be miserably well off. Quite the contrary. If we are to believe the advertising industry, money, and all the goods and services it can buy, is precisely what it takes to achieve that elusive state of "happiness."

So earn and spend we do. But are we any happier?

Not according to Your Money or Your Life authors Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. The authors asked over 1,000 people from the United States and Canada to rate themselves on a happiness scale of 1 (miserable) to 5 (joyous), with 3 being "can't complain."

Even Dominguez and Robin's were surprised to find there to be no correlation what so ever between income and happiness. In fact, people earning between $0 - 1,000 a month reported being slightly happier than those whose monthly income exceeded $4,000.

Even though we own more than our parent's generation, the percentage of Americans describing themselves as "very happy" peaked in 1957. Since then it has remained fairly stable or declined. This, despite the fact that American's consume twice as much as they did in the 1950s, when the average size of a house was about the same as many two-car garages today.

What about you: Does your income far exceed your level of bliss? If so, you may be suffering from a case of "Affluenza?" Producers of the PBS television program by the same name, describe the disease as:

The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Jones

An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the American Dream.

Happiness: 10 - Money: 2

Ok, what if you could reverse the equation? What if you could trade money for happiness? Would you?

Doug Ellis did. While he was in the corporate world, Doug had a better than average income. The fact that he had retirement vesting and other so called "golden handcuffs" made it tough to think about leaving. In the back of his mind, though, he knew money was only part of the happiness equation.

As his fifth year rolled around, Doug began to question whether being constantly "stressed and squeezed by the pressures of middle management" was worth it. As Doug explained it: "There are a lot of pressures forcing you to conform to a Dilbertesque existence. Eventually you either leave the cube farm, or hunker down in your cube and become an occupational veal calf."

For Doug, the choice was hard, but clear. He handed in his notice, packed up, moved to a small town in Colorado and never looked back. Surrounded by mountains, Doug now walks to his new job as a writer for a small software company. "Life is short," he says, adding " of the saddest things that can happen in pursuit of making a living is enslaving yourself to your boss's dream, or giving up your own dream out of fatigue and fear. No paycheck, no matter how steady and fat, is worth it."

Since the Choice is Yours, Here's How To Avoid Misery

Well, where do you come down on the great debate? Is that paycheck worth the sacrifices? If you are leaning toward the happiness camp, you're not alone. In a survey of 1,000 workers conducted by Robert Half International, two-thirds said they would willingly trade pay for more free time. For many, making a living is starting to take a back seat to having a life.

Is the thought of earning less money scary? You bet. That's why I stayed in my own high-stress job for as long as I did. Then, without warning, my mother died of heart attack. She was five months away from retirement.

It was only then that I understood that predictability is a double-edged sword. Financial security wasn't the only thing I could count on. If I didn't take control of my life, I was destined to remain miserably well off.

Walking away from a good job with good benefits was risky. To me though, the real risk is that of looking back at my life twenty years down the road and knowing, that I was miserable, but I at least I had a good dental plan. End of debate.

What are your thoughts on the money versus happiness debate? Can you have both?

[Ed. Note. "Profiting From Your Passions®" expert Valerie Young abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger's, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman's Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.]

Copyright © 2013 Early to Rise, LLC.

What You Can Learn About Business Success and Wealth
From John E. Fetzer--Media Mogul, Philanthropist and Former Detroit Tigers' Owner

By Jackie Lapin

6 Invaluable Lessons for Creating an Abundant Business

John E. Fetzer found as much joy in his quest for spiritual enrichment as he did in the wealth he acquired building a financial empire that ultimately made him the sole owner of the Detroit Tigers from 1961 to 1983 and put him on Forbes Magazine's list of 400 richest Americans.

And that may be the most valuable lesson that he offers us today. He maintained that these two were not mutually exclusive and, in fact, his connection to a higher consciousness was integral to his success building wealth from the foundation of his radio and TV stations, to his investment in the burgeoning cable television industry and to his culminating acquisition of the Tigers.

As related in the new biography John E. Fetzer and the Quest for the New Age, author Brian C. Wilson shows how Fetzer was a forerunner of the New Age Movement, exploring multiple paths to find true "freedom of the spirit" via the insights of emerging spiritual leaders, movements and approaches - Eastern and Western - including Theosophy, Freemasonry, UFOlogy, parapsychology and Buddhism, among others.

After reading this revealing book, I believe the conclusions that Fetzer came to during his quest -- and personally lived by -- provide valuable guidance to anyone seeking to accelerate his or her own business growth and wealth.

Here are a few tenets that I think can be gleaned from the John E. Fetzer playbook of success:

"Money is energy," he often said. For Fetzer, spirituality was a recognition that all is spirit, which he conceptualized as an eternal, conscious energy that, if one were open to it, would inevitably lead one back to the "great central source." Everything consists of this energy-even money. And if one understands this connection and taps into it psychically, then wealth and success, he believed, were within one's grasp. This meant to him that money was to be used in the service of good, since business success and wealth could only be spiritually uplifting if used for love and service. Although immensely wealthy, Fetzer and his wife Rhea always lived very frugally, spending most of their lives in a modest home in a middle-class Kalamazoo neighborhood. For Fetzer, wealth was not for self-aggrandizement, which would have embarrassed him, but rather for the pursuit of a spiritual mission in service to the world. John's approach was to serve first, and then money came back to him.

Fetzer believed in Karma, and in resolving Karma in order to reach a higher order of consciousness as one passes through the many lives of one's soul ascension. Thus, he sought to refrain from selfish, ego-driven actions that would have negative repercussions -- not only in this life, but in future lives. John's approach was to rein in his ego, seek equitable solutions for all, be generous with his workforce and partners, do his best and leave a wake of goodwill.

Fetzer trusted a higher intelligence in guiding him to good business decisions. He meditated, contemplated and sought to gain insights that he felt came directly from source. And when he needed more guidance in plotting his business strategies, he used pendulums, astrology, Tarot cards, and even the Ouija Board. Or, he would turn to trusted mediums, psychic advisors, dowsers and channelers. He found multiple ways to tap into the infinite intelligence. And he could point to specific situations which paid off handsomely. John trusted the Universe to provide answers, listened to his intuition, and tapped multiple sources for his answers.

Fetzer was still seeking to learn, grow and unravel more of the Universe's mysteries, even as he approached his 9th decade. He never stopped trying to raise his consciousness. And in order to bring others along to a more advanced state of consciousness, so that they, too, could experience the love, compassion, and spiritual connection that creates abundance and peace, he funded some of the seminal spiritual/paranormal/scientific research of the 70s and 80s, to validate the existence of a higher power that can change our lives vibrationally. John never stopped questing, because it kept him vital--engaged in life and business.

Fetzer was a believer in "oneness," that we are all one unified force with the source of creation. So he lived by the "Golden Rule," because he knew that he was connected to each and every one he encountered. He dealt with people with a fair and even hand. He brought respect to the negotiating table. He was beloved by his players on the Tigers and the employees in his company. John sought the good in all, refrained from gossip or unkind words, treated his employees with love and regard, dealt in good faith and was a positive light wherever he went.

For Fetzer, leaving a legacy for the world was paramount. In the 1980s, when Fetzer was beginning to wind down his business activities and sell off his holdings, including the Detroit Tigers, he used his fortune to endow the organizations that would carry his mission forward, to improve "the human and cosmic condition" through the advancement of the spiritualized science that he felt was so necessary for global transformation, and to support the programs that facilitate building a spiritual foundation for a more inclusive, loving, peaceful world. The lesson here is to weigh what legacy you can leave for the world - and while it may not be funded by great wealth - it can be the fruits of your time, efforts and gifts from which others can enjoy and prosper in the future.

For those who are seeking validation that business success and enlightenment can actually work hand-in-hand, Fetzer's extraordinary life stands as evidence.

About The Author:

Jackie Lapin, author, speaker and publicist, connects conscious leaders with conscious media and speaking opportunities.

Brian C. Wilson, PhD, is the author of John E. Fetzer and the Quest for the New Age. He is a professor of American religious history in the Department of Comparative Religion at Western Michigan University.

Four Warnings to the Wealthy

by Dr. Ray Pritchard

Scripture: James 5:1-6

How rich are you?

Before you answer that question, let me ask another one:

How rich do you feel?

If you are like most people, you will probably give different answers to those questions. For one thing, “rich” is a relative term. Compared to Bill Gates, most of us are not rich. In fact, compared to him most of us are dirt poor. I'm not rich if Bill Gates is the starting point.

But let's do the math another way. You can find out how you compare with the rest of the world by consulting the Global Rich List. By entering your annual income and pressing a button, you can find out where you stand. It's easy, quick, and a bit unnerving, especially for those of us who don't feel rich.

Here are some startling results:

If you make $60,000 a year, you are in the upper .2% of everyone in the world.
If you make $50,000, you're in the upper .3%.
If you make $40,000, you're in the upper .6%.

Suppose we drop the figure down to $20,000 a year. That puts you in the upper 4%. That means you make more than 96% of the people in the world.

Let's go down to $10,000 a year. That puts you in the upper 16%. You make more than 84% of the people in the world.

When the Gallup organization surveyed world income, they discovered that 22% of the world population lives on less than $1.25 per day and 34% lives on less than $2 per day.

We can say this another way. The average American household has an annual income of around $65,000. This obviously varies greatly by region and by population group, but we can use it as a starting point. If you live in the United States, you should be glad because you're in the upper 1% of world income.

What I'm saying is, we're rich. We may not feel rich (we probably don't), and as we approach tax time in the US, we may feel pinched and squeezed and frustrated. But in absolute terms, we're rich.

If you have a . . .

Cell phone,
Closet full of clothes,

You're rich.

There is no need to feel ashamed and no need to dance around the truth. If you've got food in your pantry and clean water to drink, you're doing better than millions of people around the world.

The question is not, “Do we have money?” but rather “What is our money doing to us?”

Not Just Mark Zuckerberg

That brings us to our text: James 5:1-6. These verses contain a fearful denunciation of rich people who use their wealth to hurt the poor. It reads like something one of the Old Testament prophets might have written.

It is a scathing indictment of the rich.
It offers no hope, but simply announces judgment from God.
There is no call to repentance.
There is no good news at all.

These words are so harsh that we instinctively assume he must be talking about someone else. We think about the super-rich found on the Forbes Billionaire List, people like Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. Does James 5:1-6 apply to them? Well, yes, James is certainly thinking about the richest of the rich. But it also includes people like you and me, which feels odd because most people I know don't think of themselves as rich. They would probably say they are in the middle class.

The term “middle class” is a recent phenomenon. In ancient Israel, you had very rich people at the top of the ladder, and a whole lot of poor people at the bottom, and not very many in-between.

You were rich or you were poor.
And there were a lot more poor people.

We should note one other thing before jumping into the text. The Bible talks about money a lot. In the broadest sense, you can find something about money (or the things money can buy) on almost every page of the Bible. Money is life, and life is money. Ecclesiastes 10:19 even says, “Money is the answer for everything.” That's true. You can't live very long on planet earth without money. You either have it, save it, earn it, borrow it, or perhaps you steal it. Money is the currency of life. Without it, you are in big trouble.

Suppose I hold up five twenty-dollar bills in my hand. Are those five bills evil in themselves? The answer is no. Those bills are just black and green ink on paper. They have no moral value. They are not “good” or “evil.” They are just twenty-dollar bills.

Money isn't good or evil.
It's what we do with money that matters.

I could use the money to buy a hungry man a meal, or I could use the money to buy illegal drugs.

The question is not, should we make money? We all need money to survive. The real question is, how will we use what God has given us?

In this text we find four warnings for the wealthy. Since we are wealthy compared to most people in the world, these words are for us.

Warning # 1: Wealth Can Make Us Arrogant

“Come now, you rich,
weep and howl for the miseries
that are coming upon you.
2 Your riches have rotted
and your garments are moth-eaten.
3 Your gold and silver have corroded,
and their corrosion will be evidence against you
and will eat your flesh like fire.
You have laid up treasure in the last days” (vv. 1-3).

In the first century, there were three main indicators of wealth. You could grow crops, or you could sell fabric, or you could store up gold and silver. Look what James says about each of those indicators:

Your crops have rotted.
Your garments are moth-eaten.
Your gold and silver has corroded.

We need to hear this because we live in a world that values money above everything else. Money makes us think we're safe. Money buys us influence, it opens doors, it allows us to have houses and cars and boats and planes and nice clothes and fancy jewelry.

Money makes us think we can get away with anything. Perhaps you've heard of the “other” Golden Rule: “The man with the gold makes the rules.” We've all seen how this works. If you've got money, you can get out of trouble. You can hire lawyers who can work the system to get you off even when you are guilty. If you have enough money, you can gain entrance to the highest levels of society. You don't have to fly economy, and you don't have to fly first class. You can buy your own plane to take you wherever you need to go.

When a rich man dies, we always ask, “How much did he leave?” The answer is always the same: He left it all. Billy Graham remarked that he had never seen a Brinks truck following a hearse. When you die, someone else will get your house, your car, your office, and your money. An Italian proverb reminds us that “the last robe has no pockets.”

Naked we came into the world.
Naked we will leave.

I saw a bumper sticker that said, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” That's so stupid. You end up dead, toys or no toys.

Warning # 2: Wealth Can Make Us Cruel

“Behold, the wages of the laborers
who mowed your fields,
which you kept back by fraud,
are crying out against you,
and the cries of the harvesters have
reached the ears of the Lord of hosts” (v. 4).

Now James asks us to consider an evil abuse of power.

In the first century, many farm workers were essentially day laborers. We might call them migrant workers in today's terminology. They were hired by the owner and paid by the day.

So here we have a rich man with a vast estate. Because he has many fields that need harvesting, he must hire many men to work for him. Those men worked from sunrise to sundown, depending on the owner to keep his word and pay them at the end of each day.

Let's suppose a certain worker arrives on Monday and works all day. In the evening when he should be paid, the owner says, “I'm sorry. I don't have the money, but work for me tomorrow and I'll pay you for two days.” The fellow grumbles but agrees to come back and work on Tuesday. That evening the boss makes another excuse: “My foreman got busy, so we don't have the money. Come back and work for me tomorrow.” Same thing happens on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Now the man is desperate because he's got a family to feed. When he confronts the owner, the rich man laughs and says, “Don't mess with me or you'll never get your money.” So the worker goes home to his family with nothing to show for a week of hard work. He's angry and worried and desperate to care for his wife and children. But what can he do? The system is rigged against him.

This sort of thing happens all the time, with the details slightly changed. The owner makes a promise and then changes his mind. Or he says, “The check is in the mail,” but he doesn't mean it. If you complain, he says, “You're fired!” What do you do then?

This is what I meant earlier when I mentioned “the one who has the gold makes the rules.” Money buys influence, power, and protection from prosecution. The rich know how to use their cash to bend the legal system in their direction.

Knowing all this, James issues a stern warning. God hears the cries of the oppressed who call out to him day and night. He sees what the rich man does, and he knows how he uses his wealth to crush the poor. The cries of the workers reach the ears of the Lord of the Harvest.

Here's the message in one sentence: The man who cheats the poor will be dealt with by a God who is big enough to do something about it.

Wealth can protect you from many things on earth, but it cannot protect you against the judgment of God.

He sees!
He hears!
He knows!

Injustice will not last forever.

Warning # 3: Wealth Can Make Us Self-Indulgent

“You have lived on the earth
in luxury and in self-indulgence.

You have fattened your hearts
in a day of slaughter” (v. 5).

There is a cause and effect in this third warning. Because the rich have lived in luxury, they have fattened their hearts in a day of slaughter. The heart of the problem is always the problem of the heart.

Just as money itself is morally neutral, having money is not intrinsically good or evil. The poor are not more righteous because of their poverty, and the rich are not necessarily more evil because of their wealth. Righteousness doesn't depend on the size of your bank account.

But riches can trick you into thinking you don't need God. After all, if you've got enough money, you can create your own “heaven on earth.” It's not real, and it won't last, but money has tremendous power to feed our delusions.

In this case, the rich men James is talking about had fattened themselves at the expense of their workers. Their greed blinded them to the needs of others. They rationalized their sin by saying, “It's a dog-eat-dog world. This is how business gets done. You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Anyway, it's not my problem.”

Unfortunately for those who think like that, a day of slaughter is coming, and God will start with the rich pigs.

# 4: Wealth Can Make Us Ruthless

“You have condemned and murdered
the righteous person.
He does not resist you” (v. 6).

The word translated “condemned” comes from the courtroom. It means to pass a guilty verdict in a very personal way. In this case, the rich used the legal system to destroy the poor.

Let me go back to the example I gave earlier. That poor day laborer has been ripped off by the man who promised to pay him but lied to his face. So the laborer gathers up what money he has and tries to bring the wealthy man to court. We all know how this story ends. The rich have all the advantages. They can hire the best lawyers who know how to craft the most powerful arguments. The rich can pay off the judge to make sure they get the verdict they want. Rich people can hire a PR firm to manipulate the news in their favor. They can plant articles to make themselves look good. They can turn the truth upside down so the poor man has no chance. When he tries to win in court, the judge not only rules against him, he sends the poor man to prison, bankrupting him in the process. Meanwhile the rich man laughs about it with his buddies on the golf course.

That poor man is as good as dead. It's a form of judicial murder, and it happens all the time.

The Only “Innocent Man”

It is often said that James (who was the half-brother of the Lord Jesus) never mentions the crucifixion. That's true in the literal sense. But he may be thinking of Jesus when he writes about “the innocent man” in verse 6. Behind the poor man stands the Lord himself.

He was truly innocent.

Though he had done no wrong, he was sentenced to death. Wicked men plotted against him and suborned perjury against him. They twisted his words, they stirred up the crowd, and they backed Pilate into a corner so he would send Jesus to be crucified.

They murdered the Son of God to satisfy their bloodlust.

Note one other fact. James says that this “innocent man” does not resist his accusers. The poor man doesn't resist because he can't resist. He is helpless against the rich who mistreat him. But Jesus had all the power in the world, yet he chose not to use it.

When they scourged him, he didn't retaliate.
When the soldiers put the crown of thorns on his head, he didn't curse at them.
When they drove the nails in his hands and feet, he didn't threaten them.
When bystanders spat at him, he didn't spit back.
When they swore at him, he didn't swear back.

If you follow Jesus, this will happen to you too. That's the real test of your faith. You find out what you believe when others mistreat you. Sometimes the real test of your faith is what you don't do. Sometimes you'll be a better Christian by not saying anything at all.

The Man in the Mirror

This text reminds us that the problem is not in the money. The problem lies in the human heart. My enemy is not my bank account. My enemy is the man in the mirror who worries too much about his bank account.

In a real sense, money is like bait on a hook. Satan uses money to get us hooked into greed and self-indulgence. He uses our money to turn us away from generosity toward the poor. He uses our money to make us think the measure of a man is his bottom line.

But against all that we have the words of Jesus in Luke 12:15, “Life is not measured by how much you own” (NLT). I saw an internet meme showing a mansion next to a hovel. Underneath were two identical graves dug into the ground. It couldn't be clearer. We all end up dead eventually, and the grave for the rich looks exactly like the grave for the poor.

What Will Your Money Say?

I am struck by what James says in verse 1 about our money testifying about us in the last day. When you stand before the Lord, your money will be a witness for or against you. What will your money say about you?

“He built a great empire.”
“She always dressed in the latest fashions.”
“They lived like royalty.”

“He cared about the poor.”
“She invested in the Great Commission.”
“They used their money to help others.”

It should be clear from what I have written that I feel the pinch of this text. We can't squirm out from under the biting impact of what James writes. In some deep sense, all of life is about money and time, and there really isn't a third category. When we stand before the Lord, we'll have to answer for how we spent our time and how we spent our money.

May the Lord deliver us from greed that destroys every good intention and blinds us to the hurting world around us. May we who are rich in this world's goods be as generous to others as God has been generous to us.

How you spend your money is a gospel issue. You needn't feel guilty about having money or being blessed beyond what you deserve. We all deserve hell, and apart from Jesus, that's where we will all end up. Be thankful for the grace of God that has saved you, and then pray that grace may reach all the way to your pocketbook.

Let's review the four warnings in our text:

Wealth can make us arrogant.
Wealth can make us cruel.
Wealth can make us self-indulgent.
Wealth can make us ruthless.

We must not think this couldn't happen to us. Money does weird things to the brain. Apart from God's grace, we may become enslaved to our money and insensitive to the needs of others.

In the end we come back to a familiar theme. Hold lightly what you value greatly because it isn't yours anyway. Everything you have is a gift from God. Hold your blessings lightly. Don't be afraid to let go of the things you own. You never really “owned” them anyway. All of life is on loan from God. One day we will give back everything to the Lord, even the life he gave us in the beginning.

Don't be a fool!
Let go of the things you own.

Hold lightly what you value greatly.
It all belongs to God anyway.

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