James 5:1-2 – Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten.
When it comes to wealth, we tend to think in the two categories of rich and poor. The Bible gives us four categories and not two:
- Godly Poor
- Godly Rich
- Ungodly Poor
- Ungodly Rich
In the Bible, the issue is not whether are you rich or poor, but rather are you godly or ungodly. The truth is, you can be Christ-like whether you are rich or poor as Jesus was rich in Heaven, poor on earth, and is right now rich in Heaven. 2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” Jesus was poor on earth, but the Bible says that Heaven has streets paved with gold, which means Jesus is so loaded He’s trying to find creative uses for all the extra gold and is down to making highways with it.
- The godly poor include Job when he lost everything to a Satanic attack, Ruth and Naomi, Jesus’ peasant parents, Jesus’ rural ministry relatives Zechariah and Elizabeth along with their son John the Baptizer, Jesus while on the earth, and the New Testament saints in Jerusalem.
- The godly rich include Abraham who God blessed because of his faith, Job after God restored his wealth after a Satanic attack, Joseph who oversaw the wealth of Egypt, Daniel who ruled Babylon through the reign of multiple godless kings, and wealthy women who funded Paul’s ministry like Lydia and Phoebe.
- The ungodly poor include Esau who traded his birthright for a meal, the sluggard in Proverbs who is lazy and wastes their wealth, Belshazzar who lost his entire kingdom when God had him ransacked, and Judas who had little but stole much of it from Jesus.
- The ungodly rich include Zacchaeus the tax collector before he met Jesus, the rich young ruler, and a parade of tyrants from Pharaoh to Nebuchadnezzar and Herod who brutalized people to live lavish lifestyles.
The group that James is warning against are the ungodly rich in category 4. Their security, identity, and priority are in worshipping wealth as their god rather than worshipping God with their wealth.
Which of these four categories was your family growing up and which are you currently? Why is it vital to think in biblical terms of godly and ungodly and not just political terms of rich and poor?
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