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The Love of Money Trap, Part 1 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #62)

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TEXT: James 5:1-8

1 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.

3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.

5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

6 Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.

7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

The Love of Money Trap, Part 1 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #62)

The Bible says, “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Families have been torn apart, people have been killed, and livelihoods have been ruined all because of someone’s inordinate love of money. Many will look at the world and see evidence of the destructive influence of loving money. However, Christians are not immune from this sickness. Many will admit to struggling with loving money; some struggle with loving money more than they love God.

Of course, money is important. We need money to live, to eat, and to provide for our needs. The Bible says, “Money answereth all things”; that is, almost anything in this world can be taken care of with the right amount of money. The question is, how do we, as Christians, not succumb to the money trap?

In his classic allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan depicts a location along the straight and narrow way through which pilgrims pass on their way to the Celestial City. He describes it as follows:

Christian and Hopeful traveled until they came to a delicate plain called Ease, across which they journeyed with much satisfaction; though this plain was also narrow so that they quickly passed through it.

Now at the other side of this plain was a small hill called Lucre [Greedy Profit], and within it a silver mine; and because of the rarity of this place, some pilgrims having gone this way had turned aside to investigate it. However, drawing too near to the edge of the shaft, and because of the treacherous nature of the ground which broke under their feet, they were destroyed. Other pilgrims were known to have been maimed there, and for the rest of their lives were never free from the mine’s wounding influence.

Bunyan uses the plain of Ease, the attraction of the silver mines, and the pilgrims who linger there as a metaphor for those Christians who are sidetracked by their love of money. Soon, we will meet the character Demas, which Paul Bunyan borrows from the New Testament. Demas was one of the Apostle Paul’s ministry associates who got drawn away from the faith because “he loved this present world.”

In our passage for today, James starts his rebuke against those who love money by focusing on the result of this affection. He says, “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.” “Go to” simply means “listen up” or “listen now.” James wants us to pay attention to what becomes of those who love money too much.

He tells the rich to “weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.” These miseries have not arrived yet, but they will come. James is not rebuking all rich people. Although Jesus said it is “hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God,” there were some rich people among Jesus’ followers — for example, Zaccheus, Joseph of Arimathea, and Barnabas. The book of Acts tells us that the early church was supported greatly by wealthy businesswomen. James’ focus is on rich people whose focus is on their riches and how they can get more of it, rather than on God and how they can use their money and material things to benefit His Kingdom. Matthew Poole said, “He speaks to them not simply as rich (for riches and grace sometimes may go together) but as wicked, not only wallowing in wealth, but abusing it through pride, luxury, oppression, and cruelty.”

That kind of view of wealth will lead to nothing but misery. Why? Because, eventually, you will realize that wealth and material possession cannot provide true fulfillment. It will be fun for a time being able to buy what you want to buy and go where you want to go without a concern in the world. However, money only brings temporary happiness. Just as material things eventually fade and decay, the dissatisfaction that you experience will slowly poison your outlook on life. James says, “Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered, and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire.”

Dr. John Walvoord and Dr. Roy Zuck state, “Riches rot, and fine clothes may be chewed up by moths. The story is not from “rags to riches” but from “riches to rags.” Gold and silver are the most sought-after metals and have long been considered the material standards for the world. Though they do not rust, they do become corroded. Gold can darken and silver tarnishes. Their corrosion (or “poison”) is a testimony to the rich man’s folly. As metals lose their luster, the poison of greed eats up people. The corrosion of wealth is testimony to this sickness of the wealthy.”

Some of the world’s wealthiest people have publicly stated in recent years that they will give away all or most of their wealth. Warren Buffett, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Ted Turner, and Mark Zuckerberg are among them. I believe that they have lived long enough to realize the truth of God’s word — that wealth and money cannot supply happiness, fulfillment, or permanent joy.

What God wants his children to realize is that gathering material possessions for ourselves — “heaping treasure up,” as James puts it — is futile. It will all come to nothing in the end. Jesus Christ said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Ask yourself honestly, “Where is my heart?” Is your heart set on the things of God and how you can benefit His kingdom? Or is your heart set on the things of this world, what money can buy, and what you can add to your little kingdom here on earth? Don’t be foolish and get caught in the trap of loving money. As James tells us, if you do, great misery will come upon you.

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If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you briefly how you can be saved from your sins and be guaranteed a home in Heaven with God today.

First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.

But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.