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I Am the Rich Person James Is Talking To! — 35 Comments

  1. bro william,
    i am a literature evangelist in colorado and i get such a blessing from all of your posts! often your posts are related to the very thing the HOLY SPIRIT is revealing to me! What a mighty and loving GOD we serve!
    thank you for sharing!

    In HIS Service!

  2. Praise God for such an insightful message. May the Lord deliver us from every species of oppression as this article alludes to. May God sustain your ministry Pastor William. Richest blessings!

  3. It's even worse I'm afraid (genuinely). This western life of consumption we live is unsustainable and comes at the expense and usually exploitation of billions of people in lesser developed countries.

    Cheaply made clothes from Asia?

    Multinationals that exploit water rights in other countries?

    The disappearing Amazon forest?

    This one is tough for me.

    • Andrew,

      I understand your concerns but please remember that in all the world, Americans are the ones who tend to give the most to charities and people and organizations in need.

    • On Giving Tuesday, December 2, 2014, Americans raised $46M for Charity, which is up 36%.

      I never knew about Giving Tuesday but am grateful for people who still care about other people.

      We have the Salvation Army soliciting at many stores and it's one place I remember to give. They help many people and for me it is important to focus on the good. If my dead brother would have been open to the help of the Salvation Army or any other group, he may still be alive.

  4. Wow! what a convinction. I did not know that I was that man. Thank you because you have just woke me up like David.

  5. Brilliant view on James 5! Thanks William.

    I am printing this one out and giving it to our Sabbath School members.
    In America, because of the "welfare" system, we have few truly poor.
    With my own eyes, I see the people in subsidized housing, who pay little rent, have trash and snow removal, free heat and hot water, and have minimal expense for repairs. They live as middle class and can buy new cars and go on cruises. They have "insurance" and it pays for all or most of their medical bills. They can be married, work, and have 3 bedrooms for all the kids or family members. They think they are poor when we struggle to pay even our food bills.

    On the other hand, I've seen my son and friends of his in NYC. Some of them make a lot of money and others don't. They don't buy things, can't own a car and struggle to pay their bills. They live in one bedroom apartments with the child sleeping in their bedroom. They can't get out of the city because it costs too much.

    I don't think having money is a sin if God gives it to you. When people possess it selfishly, that is, thinking that you deserve it because of your hard work, or luck, or ingenuity, then James' words will come true: your money "will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire" (5:3).

    When I was younger, I was dirt poor and still thought of others and paid for children's boots and gave in other ways. When I learned about tithes and offerings, and I was the poor, I gave a double tithe and then some offering. We have more money now and I still give. My mother just died, my younger sister made a trust for the youngest sister, who is on disability, and gave her no rights to her money and wants total control over the money, which is an arrangement that the youngest sister won't accept. So I am going to send my youngest sister some clothes and some money since the rest of us all got our money from Mom's estate.

    Giving to others doesn't mean you will get something back from them. I have had people turn their backs on me when I was giving with time and money. I've tried to motivate people to give to others since they have so much but it doesn't work. Only God can motivate people to care and give to others.

    Thanks William for the courage and honesty to share this post and your experiences.

    • I must respectfully disagree with the statement we in America do not have many truly poor.

      In a 2012 census data reports more than 7% of Americans fall below the federal poverty line...below.

      The great recession caused numerous citizens finding themselves in or below the poverty line and they do not have assistance but are considered the working poor, making below minimum wage.

      To criticise those who are poor or begrudge their federal assistance (which is by law) seems unjust.

      Yes, some poor do judge the wealthy and exhibit a sort of reverse elitism but at least you can understand their bitterness. What's the excuse for the rich to criticise but greed. Or even worse of all, when we as keepers of the faith do so how ever kind our words seem to appear.

      As for those of us who have no fields per se...we do. For unless we grow our own food, every bite we take, someone else has harvested it for us. Do we purchase Fair Trade or buy food from Fair Food growers? And in case you don't realize not all our farm hands in the US are illegal migrant workers. Tomato pickers in Florida are paid 1cent per pound and are in a battle with unfair & unjust landowners to have an increase of one more penny per pound. Not to mention the withheld pay checks just to keep them on location. Or worse...the rapes that take place of female pickers by these landowners.

      What we have even amongst us as Adventists is oftentimes a Poverty of Compassion, a Poverty of Commitment, and a Poverty of Creativity. If we showed more compassion toward our fellow man, what a difference that would make in their lives. Sometimes a kind word, truly kind can uplift another man's spirit. If we were truly committed in our actions and not just our words what an increase of assistance those in need could experience. And, if we could be more creative in finding really concrete ways to conquer poverty we all could rise above class disparity between the haves and have nots. Don't forget, we are all one in His eyes.

      Sadly, there's something we do know however is this...the poor we will always have with us as Jesus said. I just wish we had His humanity when faced with the troubles of our fellow man kind.

      Peace be with you all.

      • Dear Jennifer,

        People who receive federal assistance in our state are often able bodied people who work. Some of them even have property in other countries. Often they don't give time, items or money to help other people less fortunate than they.
        It used to be that churches took care of the truly poor. One third of our income goes to state and federal taxes, and in some areas like NYC people are taxed even more and our taxes will be raised soon to pay for more services.
        My sister is on disability in another state and the situation with federal assistance is very different there because there isn't much money in that state.

        Please forgive me for "criticise those who are poor or begrudge their federal assistance (which is by law)".

        My main concern is that whatever our situation, I think we can help someone less fortunate than we are. We can give time, clothes, money, etc.

        I agree with you that there is poverty in the United States and some of those people are educated and lost jobs and even houses in the downturn of 2008. It is a very real problem.

        And I agree with you that "Adventists is oftentimes a Poverty of Compassion, a Poverty of Commitment, and a Poverty of Creativity". That's what really hurts when I see people who have something that they could share and don't give.

      • These problems are very real. Very real.

        The poor are exploited and welfare is not payment for that.

        But Sister Jane you are also correct in saying that everyone can give something meaningful to others no matter how poor they are.

      • To Jennifer and Everyone Else
        That grossly misunderstood my intent in discussing the benefits some people receive from the taxpayers, such as subsidized housing, and other benefits that come because of taxpayer money. I don't resent people having IPhones and computers, getting new cars and going on cruises. The reason they can have and do all these things is because their rent is so cheap, that they can afford these things. God will hold them accountable, just like he holds us accountable, so there is no reason for me to be resentful. I was simply pointing out a fact of our lives here in our state.

        To help you understand, here is part of my own history. For five years, ages 17--22, I was single and poor. I lived in a cabin, a cheap room over a store and other cheap places. Most of the time I didn't own a car because I would have had to work to pay for the car. I made enough money for bare expenses. Ages 22-25 I was a poor, unwed, single mother. I had a homebirth and paid for it. For 11 months, I received some welfare assistance, and back then, you weren't supposed to work, and I was working, so I lied about the fact that I was working. I went off the assistance because I didn't want to lie, and believed you should work for all your money, and pay for all your items. I wanted my son to see a mother that worked for everything they had.

        At age 24, I became a Christian, found jobs, where I could have my son with me, and read the Bible, 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (ASV) 10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, If any will not work, neither let him eat. I took that Bible comment seriously because I already believed like that. For more than a year we didn't have warm coats for winter or winter boots for my son. For most of that time, we didn't have enough food to eat. For four weeks in a cold January, we lived in the back, unheated room, at an inn that was closed. So until my son was ten years old, I worked, had my son with me, homeschooled and paid for all my expenses. Then I married, didn't work outside the home, homeschooled, and our income was low. For years we had one car and we had little extras in any way. I struggled over buying winter coats and books for homeschooling.
        When we became servant leaders of the church, we opened our home to church members every week. We took in children that had been abandoned by their mothers or who needed a home for a week or more. We have given money, clothes, food and time for Bible studies.

        And we continue to do this. We've had people for Christmas and give them gift bags and necessities. We have paid for people's eye glasses. I suffer greatly from Lyme disease and we have had to pay our medical bills. We have always struggled to pay our food bills. We still give. We will always give. My mother just died, and I have one sister who lied to get on disability, but even so, Mother made a trust for this sister so she could get her assistance money. The trustee sister wants to control this sister's money and the disabled sister doesn't want any part of it. So last week I went to the bank and got a cashier's check and sent it to the disabled sister. I am the only sibling of seven living siblings that has continued to care for this sister. We run a small church and donate our time for the treasury, the clerk, the teaching, the Bible studies, the nurturing and the paperwork. We care full time for our grandchildren on their vacations and at other times.

        My point, that you missed, because you were focusing in on other facts, is that many of these people who receive financial assistance, won't give to other people and don't invite people into their homes. There are so many ways to give. Come to church and support the activities of church. Give to others less fortunate. Care about others. Volunteer time in any kind of organization. And before you cause heartache by misunderstanding, maybe ask some questions as to why someone thinks the way they do.

  6. Very inspiring messages that cannot be missed each and everyday. Thanks very much for such wonderful and motivational messages i always enjoy from you ever since i converted from my formal faith to be an adventist. Infact, i learnt so many things i never pay attention to as a christian. May the good Lord keep on letting you to be a blessed to people like me. Stay Bless!

  7. While your article is food for thought, it may not apply to you as much as you think. For example, it's quite likely that your car enables your ministry. You probably wouldn't have given as many Bible studies if you relied on public transportation or walked to all of them.

    Then it becomes a question of adequate vs extravagant. If the 1980 Pinto is reliable transportation, then it may be adequate. If it is unreliable or if you had a large family, then it is not adequate and another vehicle would be better. OTOH, a late model luxury car (eg 2014 Cadillac) would probably be extravagant. There is a lot of gray between the extremes.

    James seems to take the Nike approach to a lot of these issues ("Just do it.") He doesn't offer much of a solution (it's only hinted at in other verses). However, I would guess that proper stewardship of what God has given is a better course of action than taking a vow of poverty. I don't think God expects us to live without these things just because someone else doesn't have them.

    So, don't feel guilty because you have a car. Praise God that you can use it to serve Him. Don't feel guilty because you can take a hot bath and also have a toilet. Praise Him that you live in an area with good sanitation services and also do what you can to help improve conditions for others. We can praise God for and support ADRA.

  8. Thank you everyone for your encouraging words. Dana you are so right, and thank you for pointing out that all that we have belongs to God.The car that I drive is not really my car, but God's car to be used in His service. Just like the laptop that I am typing on right now belongs to God for His service. All that we have is God's.

    • William, i appreciate what you have written in the past and likewise this is another example. My comment relates to the associated posts.

      There are number of thoughts here that I find patronizing and frankly, irritating. If someone were to read some of these who had no previous experience with God, they might walk away with the understanding that if can muster a sense of guilt over their western world "stuff/lifestyle" then they will be in the right frame of mind, to share it, tithe it, ... whatever.

      A refreshing, renewing life with Christ, places every part of who we are into perspective from God's vantage point. When blessed with the fullness of His Holy Spirit, our new heart, we experience a gratitude that permeates who we are and how we live. The western world and we personally have been "blessed to be a blessing." Difficult for me to experience my blessing if I am giving as a result of guilt rather than a God given love for those around me. This is not simply a change of mind regarding what I have been given, it springs from who I am becoming in Christ. As He gently exposes my selfishness, my response should be "forgive me," resulting in a renewed sense of where He has placed me in life, geographically and materially, and how He wishes me to live out my life in this situation. Paul was not expressing guilt when he referred to times when He had much and times when He had little, he was simply expressing the gratitude that he experienced with his life infused with Christ.

      • Dear Mike,

        Thanks for raising the concern, "If someone were to read some of these who had no previous experience with God, they might walk away with the understanding that if can muster a sense of guilt over their western world "stuff/lifestyle" then they will be in the right frame of mind, to share it, tithe it, ... whatever."

        When I first became a Christian, it was through a legalistic, Christian community and they did impress me with a sense a guilt about having money and things. I no longer feel that way and can see your view point. Thanks for sharing.

        However, in America, I see most people have more than enough, such as closets overfilled with clothes, and living rooms filled with items. This is even true with people who have subsidized rent. Some of these people can afford nice computers, iPhones, cruises and new cars and yet some of them won't give to other people and don't invite people into their homes. I think we have a huge problem with selfishness. So to me, William's post really hit the mark.

        • Mike there is no guilt in being rich or poor, just for being oppressive, which I illustrated can be done without having any money at all. I have even seen rich people being oppressed by poor people. The poor oppress the rich by telling lies about them and making them look bad, or being rude to them. I have heard the term "rich snob" before but I have seen some poor snobs too, so the "rich" part really has nothing to do with being a snob.

        • Why does it bother some of us to see those needing assistance have possessions? How do we know where these items came from?ie hand-me-downs, or inherited from a grandparent etc...

          Why shouldn't the poor have a computer--- in this day & age we're all lost without one. How do you expect them to advance in life?

          This perplexes me--- the notion that the poor must exhibit nothingness. Nilio. And it saddens me terribly.

          Shouldn't the poor have the basic necessities of life? Not all take advantage of the system. Sometimes things happen like illnesses, or accidents. Sometimes we simply find ourselves in situations that are out of our control.

          This attitude of underlying resentment for those less fortunate truly vexes the spirit.

        • Related to that Sis Jennifer is the idea that the poor should only have their needs and nothing more.

          Everyone else is allowed to have things in their life that are not utilitarian. Things that give them pleasure.
          Eg. The occasional ice cream, a drive in the countryside, a motorbike, a fancy meal now and then, a nice sweater.

          None of these things are needs, but they give a "fullness" to living beyond merely existing hand to mouth. Eating, sleeping and working. Eating, sleeping and working.

          Why then must we enjoin this upon the poor?

      • I think it is more than gratitude.

        One can be grateful and still be selfish.

        When we realize that we do not deserve what we have, then we will also realize that it is not our virtues that have placed us in this favorable situation.

        That means we will stop blaming the poor for being poor (because of lack of virtue) and we will see our blessings as intended to bless others.

        Furthermore, if our priorities are the same as God's and if we have his mind, then our natural impulse would be one of compassion and reaching out.

  9. Thanks for putting this perspective on things! I really appreciate it. The Holy Spirit was given to convict each one of us of our own sins not for us to point the finger at, or judge others! Amen! and thanks again.

  10. William,

    I learned some more lessons from this post. How very true these insights are about people that I hadn't thought of before. How much we need the new heart of love that only God can give us. Thanks so much!

    You wrote: People can be, "oppressive, ...which can be done without having any money at all."...when we snub someone from our social circle because they don’t conform to our beliefs or opinions? That is emotional oppression! The poor oppress the rich by telling lies about them and making them look bad, or being rude to them."

    • Jane, may I express my appreciation for your commitment to a life of sharing/giving, and the multiple posts that William's article motivated you to write. May our Father in Heaven continue to bless your heart of love, and grant you continued opportunities to bless the lives of others.

      Only one thing, please don't underestimate the poverty in this country because of the welfare supported one's you have seen on cruises. You did mention the suffering of some who are stuck in NY city. Just to identify one area of the US dilemma: 57% of elderly who have to choose between buying food or medication buy the medication. Obomacare is a shambling mediocrity to the original intent of President Obama to cover 70 million, mostly elderly and college students. Very interesting dilemma here: Most of 70 million without healthcare coverage are the elderly who for decades carried this country, and the young who are our hope for the future.

      Let us not underestimate the suffering of enslavement among many in the middle class either. There is an incredible oppression that requires the love of Jesus Christ to fill the emptiness that cars cannot fill. Ah, for Laborers, as Christ asks us to pray, for Laborers who have the heart of Jesus Christ. God bless your work of love.

    • Oppression implies power over.

      The rich are hardly oppressed.

      The 85 richest people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion (Forbes). That is staggering!
      Eighty five? That is 0.000001% of the world, if I am not mistaken.

      That has direct implications for law and public policy and governance.

      "Rudeness" and "lies" hardly rise to the level of oppression then, in my humble opinion.
      Not in the face of that.

  11. William, you have a wonderful gift in using stories as object lessons for the sharing of the Gospel. As you know, I have at times contended with your analogies, but that is never to distract from the special gift you have been given by God. Rather it is a call to stay grounded in Scripture as the only basis for spiritual formulation.

    This article is profound. It continues to map your personal growth in Christ as a Christian and as one called to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Your self-reflection is thorough and from the heart, and I am blessed. Many short responses to your article simply concur and receive the blessing. May our Father in Heaven continue to bless you in your growth and in your ministry.
    Thank you sincerely for representing well the call to Laodicea to move from blind to sight, and from naked to being clothed. God bless in your ministry.

  12. I was reading this post and I thought..."there's some really good stuff in there!" And then I noticed the author and I realized why. Thanks, William, for sharing your insights and for your transparency. (I know your wisdom comes from years in TX, especially in Ft Worth!)

    I would just like to add that when I returned from being a student missionary years ago, I almost denied letting my dad give me a 6 year old car, because it seemed so frivolous. I thought..."the people where I lived for two years don't have the privilege of driving their own car like this at my age!" But looking back, I can say now that I was not necessarily more Spiritual or closer to God when I made that comment. It was a matter of what I was used to. Perhaps it came from guilt. I think it is less about how much stuff you own, and more about whether it owns you or not!

    Kevin Hayden makes the point that riches are like sugar to a diabetic. Dangerous. Not inherently evil. We just gotta keep tabs on it.

  13. About 20% of individuals eligible for Welfare in San Diego county can figure out how to get on it. I have visited families that have been stuffed 5 families to one single home. Just over the border one of my Mexican colleagues was horrified to stop and help a 12-year old boy trying to end his life by inhaling the fumes of a running car because he was so tired of being hungry. Poverty, hunger and challenges are within and without our borders. We can always do more and with love encourage people that they are worthy of love, clothing, shelter and food. It's what Jesus did and He is who we follow.

  14. Poverty is a very real thing. There was a time when I viewed poverty in terms of the conditions found in other countries up until I saw real poverty in the US. I am not talking about having to skimp here or there because one doesn't have enough to live the good life on. I am talking about poverty on the level one would expect in a third world country slum.

    Many years ago when I had a job interview with a company in Brooklyn (a bough of New York City) the cabbie at my request took me by the outskirts of the Bedford-Stuyvesant area and what I saw shocked me. I am talking of seeing half starved dogs and little cardboard and tarpaper shacks lining the street. There was nothing beyond one story tall, if one could even say that, with a few drunks in the gutter and trash all over the place. And that was in the land of prosperity? Since then it has been cleaned up but I still remember what I saw and that impression will be with me until the end of my life.

    I have also been there to an extent when I ran out of everything and couldn't find a job anywhere. I also since then came to the realization that the numbers of homeless people in the US have been on the increase. Usually a single person or a couple can withstand that situation but when it involves children the situation can become extremely stressful and heartbreaking. You would also be surprised how many homeless people have post graduate degrees but for one reason or another are out of work and in desperate need.

    I am also fully aware of the abuse of the welfare system. That is one reason I am very reluctant to give to the panhandlers often stationed in the vicinity of shopping areas. When I do give it is usually through agencies that deal with that situation and even then the cheats run away with a portion that should go to those in real need. As John Brunt of the Azure Hills SDA Church in California once said when he gave to a panhandler that had children to only learn later that she was making more than he was. The question he posed was how to stop from being hardened by such things and to maintain a spirit of mercy for those in need.

  15. i Thank GOD for these lesson they are right on time with where we are to be if we don't make it it's nobody fault but our own. share your worth and give GOD the glory. i agree with William Earnhardt Let's do more than pray


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