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Who Is The Rich Man?

I’m teaching through the book of James right now and he makes this comment about rich people…

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. James 1:9-11

So it begs the question?? Am I a rich man?

When we think of the rich, we generally think of as those who live in mansions, have butlers and spread Grey Poupon on their lunch meat. But don’t be deceived; in a world where 10 million children die each year from hunger and malnutrition, we are very rich men.

There are actually two answers to this question. Both place the majority of American citizens squarely in the affirmative. First, every American is a rich man. A 2006 Panorama study published by The Nielsen Company says that approximately 90% Americans claim to own at least one automobile. This is compared to 8% auto ownership worldwide. Additionally, two-thirds of American homes built today have a two-car garage. The majority of those garages are insufficient to park the number of automobiles owned by those who live in the home. By anyone’s standards, Americans are among the richest, most prosperous humans that have ever inhabited planet Earth. In this right, as Americans, we must consider ourselves in the category of the “rich”. So when James warns the rich man in verse 10, he warns the American. The American Christian would be foolish to flippantly dismiss himself from the James’ warning.

Second, even by American standards most of us are considered middle and upper class. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services publishes its annual poverty guidelines. In 2008 the U.S. government proposed the following as standards of poverty for all Americans.

Family Size    Poverty Line
1    10,400
2    14,000
3    17,600
4    22,200
5    24,800
6    28,400
7    32,000
8    35,600

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