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This week we continued our study and application of James’ writings.  Our scriptures, 5:1-6, are rather scathing which I take as a clear statement of emphasis and importance.
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

Superficially, these words address money but Pastor Brian emphasized deeper underlying and foundational issues of the heart. Greed, self-centeredness, selfishness, and a resulting dissatisfaction with “life on life’s terms” he taught as being at the center of money issues. Understanding and accepting these character defects is essential to finding a sustainable sober life. Even the Beatles knew, “Money Can’t Buy You Love,” but the truth is, it can’t buy happiness, either.

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples of men I’ve known. Both had reached a bottom (we can have many) and admitted they were powerless over their addiction and life was, indeed, unmanageable. As they worked through the steps and embraced daily change their lives began improving. Both were then provided greater access to money albeit in different ways. Almost immediately they returned to their addictions and life dove toward their next bottom undoubtedly worse than the last. Both disappeared so I have no idea what happened to either. I believe these examples reflect Step 4 deficiencies.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Applying Pastor Brian’s lesson, greed, self-centeredness, and selfishness took over with each of these men and neither was able to continue a sober life. Neither had honestly identified the power of these character defects through their Step 4 work.

We now know what the problem looks like but what do we do about it. Pastor Brian breaks this into three practical steps.
  • Reduce debt
  • Increase savings
  • Be more generous

These steps build and reinforce contentment and gratitude. Being generous is actually what our 12th Step work is all about, sharing what was freely given to us. In large part, we build and maintain a content and grateful sobriety with an earnest focus on the quality and depth of our 4th Step and then following God’s word and example as we “do the next right thing” for others.

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