Words of Faith 4-9-2020
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2020
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.
The world says that worldly wealth is the answer. If we can just find wealth, we will have a high position on top of the world. But there is increasing evidence that worldly wealth does not satisfy.
In America, we live in, perhaps, the most affluent culture ever to occupy the planet. Americans have more disposable income than at any other time. Yet, the percentage of monthly income used to pay consumer debts has skyrocketed. The median household income hit $61,372 in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That's almost $20,000 more than it was in 2000. But the typical American household now carries an average debt of $137,063. The median debt was only $50,971 in 2000.
We don't seem to find satisfaction even in the most affluent culture ever. Personal bankruptcy filings peaked in 2005, were high during the Great Recession, and have been decreasing since 2010. In 2007, people filing bankruptcy increased by more than 45% over the number of people filing bankruptcy the previous year. This was curbed by passage of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act in 2005.
Another indicator is the percentage of household income given to charities. Households with incomes below $20,000 gave 4.6% to charity, higher than any other income group. Households earning between $50,000 and $100,000 donated 2.5 percent or less. Only above income levels of $100,000 does the percentage rise again. Apparently, affluence is not the answer.
James is clear that the place of affluence-- while certainly a place used by God-- is actually the “low position.” Why? Perhaps because to have wealth in this world is to have been entrusted with the lesser of the treasures. Earthly treasure is important in eternity only in that stewardship is an important part of character. But even meeting church and personal needs in material ways, as important as they are, is on the lower rungs of God's economy since all this is passing away.
To be a steward of a spiritual gift or the steward of spiritual matters is much larger. To be the steward of faith that trusts God while in difficult times or the steward of a soul or the steward of God's vision, these are the larger matters.
Lord, help me to be a good steward of both the worldly wealth and the Kingdom wealth that you have entrusted to me. Help me to focus today on what is eternal. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, and our website, and our church app, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.
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