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"Being Rich in Stuff That Lasts"
Sunday School Youth Group Study Notes
April 20, 2008
Theme: A persons real "wealth" is based on the spiritual riches he or she has in Christ.
(Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version; copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.)
Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.
For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.
There's a true story about a very wealthy man who was also a great art collector. He loved to collect treasures of art from around the world. One day, he was looking in a book and found a valuable treasure of art that he wanted to add to his collection. So he sent his agents throughout the world in search for it. As hard as they tried, though, they were not able to find this priceless art treasure that the wealthy man wanted. One day, after searching long and hard, they finally found this valuable piece of art. They found it in the one place they least expected to find it—in the art collection that the man already had!
In a way; that's how we as Christians sometimes behave—looking around in the world for something that we think that we really need—never realizing the spiritual riches that we already have in Christ! If we only saw ourselves as God saw us (see Revelation 2:9), and if we only understood the rich inheritance He says we already have in Christ (see Ephesians 1:18), perhaps we wouldn't evaluate ourselves so much on the basis of the temporary things of this world!
Pastor James wanted his Christian friends to learn not to measure themselves on the basis of the fading "worldly" things that they possessed; but rather on the marvelous spiritual treasures they have in Jesus.
I. THE POOR BELIEVER SHOULD 'BOAST' IN HIS 'HIGH SPIRITUAL POSITION' IN CHRIST (V. 9).
A. Many of the people to whom James wrote were suffering in great poverty. Many of them suffered the loss of their homes and their jobs because of their Christian faith; and had to live in great poverty. This even happens to Christians in some parts of the world today.
B. It might have been a great encouragement to these poor Christians to remember how much Jesus could identify with them. He was born into a poor family (Luke 2:24; see also Leviticus 5:11); was placed in an animal trough (Luke 2:7); and had no home (Luke 9:58). The Bible tells us that though He was rich in heavenly glory, He became poor for our sakes; so that we, through His poverty, might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).
C. James tells the "lowly" Christian to "glory in his exaltation". In Christ, we are now children of God (John 1:12-13); heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17); citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20-21); eternal 'showcase displays' of God's grace (Eph. 2:4-7); members together with Christ in the Godhead (John 17:20-23); recipients of an immeasurably great inheritance (1 Peter 1:3-6); co-regnants with Christ (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 20:6); and destined to be holders of great authority (1 Cor. 6:2-3). It doesn't matter how "rich" we are in the things of this world; these are things that money cannot buy—and they are already ours. We can actually "boast" in them; because it was God that gave them the spiritual wealth they have—and not they who earned it for themselves.
II. THE PROSPEROUS BELIEVER SHOULD 'BOAST' IN HIS 'HUMILIATION' (10-11).
A. Don't misunderstand! James is not saying that it's a sin to be rich in earthly things. In fact, if handled right, earthly riches can be used greatly to advance God's work. But if you read through James, you can see that people were making "class distinctions" on the basis of earthly riches within the church (James 2:1-9; 4:1-6; 5:1-6).
B. James warns that earthly riches are like the scorching east wind that often blew upon the land of Israel. It came suddenly; and turned the green grass of the field into brown stubble in a matter of hours. The flowers that are on such fields faded away; and their beauty was quickly destroyed. That's what happens to a rich man in the midst of his pursuits. They quickly fade away. Some people say, "Money talks—and when it does, it usually says 'Goodbye'."
C. A godly rich believer keeps things in perspective. He or she remembers that riches are only temporary (1 Tim. 6:6-8); that the love of them is dangerous (1 Tim. 6:9-10); that they are given to him by God for His service (1 Tim. 6:17-19); and that they are not to be where we place our hope and confidence (Hebrews 13:5-6).
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WHAT TO DO THIS WEEK:
Read Matthew 6:19-21. Answer the question: "Where is your 'treasure' in life right now?"
Dealing with temptations.
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