turns his attention to the rich. It
seems we’ve been hearing a lot about “the rich” in the news also. James is not using the term in the same
way. He is referring to the wealthy
land-owners that were guilty of being unfair to others and using their money
and influence to crush those around them.
It is always important to keep a Biblical idea in its context and not
try to force a text to say something it doesn’t. Here is what James says in this section:
“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.” (James 5:1–6, NIV)
tells young Timothy “the
love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy
6:10a). When the Lord’s material
blessings are void of the disciplined pursuit of the Lord Himself, trouble
follows. Riches, themselves, are not the
problem. It is not the money that makes
these people under judgment. Their
problem had become an issue of worship: they worshipped their wallets!
section of James stands out from the rest of the letter. In this part, James doesn’t address these
people as “brothers and sisters” nor does he tell them to repent. Instead, there is a certainty of condemnation
and punishment. The “rich people” are told to “weep and wail” and means to sob and
cry aloud. They are to be in deep sorrow
over “the misery that is coming on” them.
were the crimes of these selfish people?
hoarded their money -3.
held back wages -4.
hogged all their wealth -5.
hated the innocent -6.
Americans, we are among the richest in the world. May we be careful, as the people of Jesus
Christ, of these sins. May we be
generous, faithful in paying our dues and debts, helping others where we can,
and loving those who are less fortunate than we are. American culture values getting more and more
money and we measure success by money.
Our perspective—as children of Christ—must be different.
wealthy and righteous has incredible advantages in the Kingdom of God. If you have been entrusted with wealth (and
most Americans have been by comparison to the world!), you have an obligation
to trust those riches to the Lord and be faithful to the One Who provided the
wealth to you.