Filthy Rich People
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
Ouch! Why in the world would James rip into rich people with such condemnation and vigor? Why would he spend six verses laying them out in a thundering, prophetic style? Perhaps there are some things he wants us to learn as followers of Christ.
First of all, we need to remember that God will settle all accounts. Do you ever get frustrated hearing about the excesses of the rich and famous? Perhaps you have an unhealthy infatuation with them so you read People magazine or watch Entertainment Tonight or search for reruns of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous? Wealth, in and of itself, is not evil…but it certainly can be conducive to sin and rejection of the Gospel. Instead of having disdain for the rich, we should have compassion on them, knowing that on the Day of the Lord their riches most likely will amount to nothing but condemnation.
Secondly, we need to remember that if we are blessed with wealth, we need to make sure we use it in a way that pleases the Lord. James makes mention of the laborers who are being abused by the business owner…and their cries always reach the ears of the Lord. The more you have, the more temptation you will face. Self-indulgence will certainly satisfy the flesh, but it will come with a high price in God’s economy.
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