I am rich. The scriptures do not teach us so much about how to GET rich. Actually, getting rich is sort of a given for the Christ Follower who walks in the ways of God. The Bible does teach much about How to BE RICH in a way that honors and pleases God. Our series is not How To GET Rich. The series is about HOW TO BE RICH. I am rich.
I Am Rich
by Delbert Young
I Am Rich
1Timothy 6:17-19; Ecclesiastes 5:19; Luke 18:18; Luke 18:23-24; Luke 18:25; Luke 12:48
In the days of mule drawn wagons, sometimes a carrot tied to a stick was hung in front of the animal, enticing it to step forward. Of course, the animal was never able to reach the carrot. That’s sort of what the devil does to us enticing us to chase life. He uses money, enticing us to get wealth. That’s the image for our series.
Apostle Paul instructed Pastor Timothy to preach this to rich people.
1Timothy 6:17-19 Command those who are RICH in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them TO DO GOOD, to BE RICH in GOOD DEEDS, and to BE GENEROUS and WILLING TO SHARE. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the LIFE THAT IS TRULY LIFE.
There is rich and there is BEING RICH IN A WAY THAT PLEASES GOD. A person can be rich and take hold of the LIFE THAT IS TRULY LIFE – eternal salvation.
As a child, how many wished, even dreamed when you grew up, you would be rich with wealth. I did. Did it happen? Are you rich? Most children hope to grow up to be rich, but according to you, you are not rich. Do you know, or know of, someone who is rich and wish you had that person’s money? Interestingly, if you went to nearly anyone you see as rich and ask, “Are you rich?” they would say, “No. I’m not rich.” The reason is they know of someone who is richer. We have all seen people who are not rich and people who are rich. Where and what is the line that separates the not rich from the rich? How does one know when he or she steps across the rich line?
The scriptures do not teach us so much about how to GET rich. Actually, getting rich is sort of a given for the Christ Follower who walks in the ways of God. The Bible does teach much aboutHow to BE RICH in a way that honors and pleases God.
Our series is not How To GET Rich. The series is about HOW TO BE RICH. Let’s begin with asking WHAT IS RICH? We have got to realize rich is a moving line. What you thought was rich years ago is probably not what you think rich is today. What you think rich is today will not be what rich is to you tomorrow. For example, when I made $20,000 a year ($385 weekly), I thought that people making $40,000 a year ($770 weekly) were rich. I thought that if I ever made $40,000 a year, I would have crossed the line and would be rich. If I could make $40,000 a year, I would never need to make more than that. I would be rich, but the rich line moved. Children came along, a house came along, insurance, braces, college, vehicles, etc. I never felt like I was rich even though my income was what I thought rich was.
Gallup did a survey asking people, “What it Means to Be Rich” concerning income. When they asked those earning $30,000 or less a year, the answer on average was $74,000. Some of you make $74,000 or more a year, but you don’t FEEL rich. Yet, those who make $30,000 look at you and say you are rich, but you don’t feel rich. Why? The rich line moves. When Gallup asked, “What is rich” to people making $30,000 to $50,000 a year, the answer on the average was $100,000 a year. Some of you make that much, or have a combined income of $100,000 a year. You would say to those who think you are rich, “I have news for you. $100,000 a year is not rich. I have taxes, insurance, mortgage, college, activities, etc.” However, many people look at you and say you are rich, but you don’t FEEL rich. Why? The rich line moves.
I want to give you good news before I give you the bad news. The good news is you are rich. I’m not talking to the person next to you. I am talking to you. I am going to show you, YOU ARE RICH.
The devil dangles the carrot and we keep chasing it. When God speaks to rich people in scriptures, do you FEEL he is addressing you, or is God talking to someone with much more money than you like Bill Gates? You gauge “rich” using the United States as your standard, but God is speaking to the whole world, not only the United States. Do you agree with that? When you compare yourself with the rest of the world, you must acknowledge YOU ARE RICH. In fact, you are VERY RICH. Ask someone in the rest of the world to describe rich people and here is what they might say. There are some people so rich they own an automobile. Not many people own a automobile in the world. Only about 3% of the people alive today own a car. Some of them are so rich they own two cars. How many own two automobiles or more? I do. We are in an elite group of 3% of the people in the world. That’s how rich I am. Some of those rich people have a house to put their car(s) in – carport garage. Some people are so rich they buy cars for their children to play with! I did that. Some people are so rich they go to places called restaurants where they pay people to cook their food and serve them. That’s how rich they are. Some rich people are so rich they eat more food than they need. They’re the fat rich. People are starving all over the world, but rich people eat two or three helpings and then throw perfectly good food in the trash. These rich people have rooms called closets to hang their clothes. Some have more than one closet because they have so many clothes. These closets are full of clothes and rich people go through those clothes and say, “I don’t have anything to wear.” That’s what rich people do.
The problem some of you are having is you say, “But I don’t FEEL rich!” The reason you don’t FEEL rich is because the devil moves the rich line – carrot. The devil keeps moving the line just in front of you. This causes you to keep chasing wealth and consuming everything God gives you on you. Consuming everything God gives you is not how to BE RICH. It’s how to BE SELFISH. It’s how to BE STRESSED. It’s how to continually grab for more, always trying to GET rich never realizing we ARE rich, so we never learn how to BE RICH. You are rich! The devil does not want you to know you are rich. We need to get beyond wanting to FEEL rich and grasp the fact we are rich.
I acknowledge that some of you are hurting financially. There are numbers of reasons for your financial position. There are occupational challenges. You may have lost your job. There are medical challenges. You may have a stack of medical bills you don’t know how you will ever pay. There are situations caused by divorce and child support. Mostly, there is over extension and on and on go the reasons for financial hurt. There are significant needs, but even some of you who would complain about your financial situation, complain while watching cable or dish TV, talking on your cell phone, driving your car, surfing the web on your computer, and eating delivered pizza you ordered. The truth is most of us are doing OK.
Let me show you something. (I wadded up and threw two $1 bills in the floor.) No one makes a dash for them. No one really cares. Some of the children would like to get them, but adults don’t really care. It’s only two $1 bills, right? Yet, over 3 billion people today will work all day long to earn less than I just threw away. 3 billion people, is one out of two people, half the Earth’s population. We throw away money and don’t care. You do it and I do it. That’s how rich we are.
I looked at the demographic for this area dated 2006. It was the latest I could find. The average income per household for this area is $34,234. It’s a little lower than the national average. Did you know that the average income in the world is $7,880? The average household in this area makes over 4 times what the average income is for the world. It gets better. Did you know that if you earn around $35,000 per year, you are in the top 4% of the richest people in the world? That means you are rich. If you make $45,000 or more a year, you are in the top 1% of the richest people in the world. That’s how rich you are.
The challenge is that we are rich, but we do not FEEL rich. However, until you admit you ARE rich, you will continue to try to GET rich, and never learn how to BE RICH. You will never honor and please God who gives you wealth.
Ecclesiastes 5:19 Moreover, WHEN GOD GIVES ANY MAN WEALTH AND POSSESSIONS, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work – THIS IS A GIFT OF GOD.
God has blessed you with wealth. You are doing OK. You are rich.
If you are going to honor and please God with your wealth, you must first admit you are rich and admit that God has blessed you. WILL YOU SAY ALONG WITH ME, “I AM RICH.” How does saying it feel? Does saying it feel weird? It feels weird to me. A reason is the devil tricked us by always moving the rich line like the carrot. We consume it on our own selves, still I am rich.
Another reason it feels weird to say, “I am rich” is we feel guilty. Even if we are really well off and God has extremely blessed us, we have difficulty saying we are rich. Have you noticed that financial blessings are maybe the only place people apologize for the wonderful blessing of God. If someone said, “Delbert, you are blessed with a great family.” I would say, “Yes it is great. God has truly blessed me.” I would not apologize for my family and say something like, “No. It’s really not all that good.” I would say, “Thank you. I am blessed of God.” If someone said, “Delbert, God has really blessed you with an ability to teach his word.” I would not apologize and say, “Not really. I am poor at it, but I try.” I would say, “Yes, the Lord has brought me a long way. God has truly blessed me.” However, if someone said, “Delbert, you are wealthy rich. God has made you rich. You have a big house, two vehicles, boats, clothes, riding lawn mower, lots of food, anything you want, some money, etc.” I would say, “I’m not wealthy rich.” Even though I just showed you I am rich, I would find myself sort of apologizing for my richness. See, I don’t want anyone in our church to hear me say, “I am rich.” Can you imagine how this will sound to the community when they hear I said, “I am rich”? Preachers are supposed to be poor according to people. We all feel guilty when we realize we are rich. We shouldn’t feel guilty. We should feel GRATEFUL. I am rich. It’s just so difficult to acknowledge I am rich. However, when I realize that I am rich, it is then I can begin to help myself in a way that honors and pleases God.
GOD HAS BLESSED ME WITH MORE THAN I NEED. I AM RICH. Would you say that with me?
That’s the good news. Now I have to tell you the BAD NEWS. It’s really BAD NEWS. I don’t know if I will ever be able to get across how bad this news is. The BAD NEWS is YOU ARE RICH. I realize you don’t understand yet, but this is very, very BAD NEWS. Here is why. Jesus was approached by a rich guy one day.
Luke 18:18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to INHERIT ETERNAL LIFE?”
Jesus didn’t tell this rich man to pray a sinner’s prayer. Jesus first told him to keep the commandments to which the rich guy replied he had done pretty well. Jesus knew the guy was all about his stuff, so Jesus told him to get rid of his stuff and follow him.
Luke 18:23-24 But when the man heard this, he became sad because HE WAS VERY RICH. Jesus watched him go and then said to his disciples, “HOW HARD IT IS FOR RICH PEOPLE TO GET INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD!
You could put your name in the place of “rich people.” How hard it is for YOU and ME, rich people, to enter the kingdom of God! Next verse…
Luke 18:25 Indeed, it is EASIER for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a RICH man to enter the kingdom of God.”
It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for “me” to get into the kingdom of God. That’s BAD NEWS. It is easier for a Camel to go through the eye of a needle than for YOU and ME to enter the kingdom of God. I know that some teachers say there was a gate in Jerusalem called the eye of a needle, but I can’t find that in any reliable resource. How many have heard that? It’s another one of those things people tell us and we fall for it. Jesus meant what he said. It is the extremely difficult for rich people to enter the kingdom of God. I hope you can hear this. When Jesus is speaking about rich people, he is speaking about us. It is hard for us to inherit eternal life and enter the kingdom of God! It can be done. Paul said rich people could lay hold of the life that is truly life. You can’t get arrogant on me. Don’t puff up and tell me you prayed a prayer and you are fixed forever. You had better listen. You can’t hope in your wealth. You have to do wealth God’s way, but you can enter.
Why is getting into the kingdom so HARD for us? Rich people don’t need God that much. Like the rich ruler, we need our stuff more than we need God. We depend on our stuff.
There are problems incurred with being rich. Let’s look at three.
- IT IS HARD FOR US TO DEPEND ON GOD.
When was the last time you honestly prayed, “Give us today our daily bread”? Have you ever had to pray that? Probably not because you have plenty of bread. If you run out you simply run to the convenience store and grab a loaf. You have shelves and a freezer full of food. Likely, you have never needed to trust God to provide food for you today because you have today and several days already provided.
Some of us have so much financial provisions that our children will not need to depend on God either. We have insurance, health care, retirement, and all our stuff that we depend on, so we don’t have to depend on God. It’s hard for us to truly depend on God.
- IT IS HARD TO FOCUS ON TRUE PRIORITIES.
For example, people don’t go to church because of their stuff. They drive their rich car off for the weekend. They have rich lake houses, or take Sundays to take the kids to sporting events, or go boating, whatever.
You have to keep all your stuff working – car, air conditioners, lawn mowers, boats, and all sorts of RICH PROBLEMS.
If you have never gone to a third world country, you need to go. Many people have nothing and I mean nothing. Have you ever heard the term “dirt poor”? It means they have dirt floors and no indoor toilet. They go in the dirt off to the side. They don’t know IF they WILL eat today, not WHAT they will eat. Until you see that, you can’t imagine how rich you are. I walked through entire communities made of tin and cardboard houses. It never failed to move me deeply… until I get back to the states and go back to getting and caring for my stuff. Being rich makes it hard to focus on true priorities.
- THE RICH HAVE A HARD RESPONSIBILITY.
Luke 12:48 … For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required…
Has “much been given” to you? That’s BAD NEWS. Do you truly believe God made you rich so you can consume it all? That’s not how to BE RICH. That’s how to BE SELFISH.
What are you doing with what God has given you to honor God? A life that is truly life is not about how to GET RICH. It’s about how to BE RICH.
In this series, I want us to learn we are rich because God has blessed us with wealth. I want us to learn to depend on God and not our stuff. I want us to properly prioritize and seek first the kingdom and not our stuff. And, I want us to learn to fulfill our greater responsibility for we have been given so much. I want us to take hold of the LIFE THAT IS TRULY LIFE. I want us to make certain we enter the kingdom of God, and inherit eternal life.
Let’s say it again. GOD HAS BLESSED ME WITH MORE THAN I NEED. I AM RICH.
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