James 5:1 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.
In this last chapter of the book of James, God continued to challenge those who are in love with the world, rather than loving God. Riches are not evil. The Bible gives us examples of rich people. Abraham was a wealthy man. David became a wealthy man. God granted king Solomon great riches and the nation of Israel became very wealthy during his reign.
The problem the Bible addresses is when riches become a god. When riches take over a person’s thinking, that is the problem. When a person understands that the wealth they have is a gift from God to be used for His glory, there is no problem. When those who seek help from the wealthy, understand that riches are not there for people to take and use for selfish and ungodly ends, then riches are not a problem.
James was directed to address those who were rich, but were not living in the light of God’s blessing. These were rich people who assumed a higher status in life because of their wealth. They assumed that they were somehow superior to others who did not have that wealth. Now, probably many times those who live in poverty, contributed to their poverty. They either were never taught how to manage money or they were greedy and made bad choices that brought them into poverty. Another real problem is that too many people are lazy and they believe that others owe them a comfortable lifestyle.
Having said that, those who are rich, must understand that God is the One who gives them the capacity of gaining wealth, unless it is gained through crime and deceit. James warned the carnally rich person that they will face misery. We know that Lot faced misery because of his foolish choices. His life did not end well. It was not just his life that did not end well, but his daughters suffered as did his sons through his incestuous actions.
In verses 2-3 James continued to demonstrate the folly of making riches a god. James was speaking to people of his day who were in trouble due to their folly. We can certainly see quite clearly now the danger of making riches your god. We are seeing crypto currency taking quite a hit. Mr. Trudeau is trying to pin Mr Poilievre as being a very poor financial advisor because of some statements he has made about crypto currency. I have many problems with Mr. Poilievre but it seems he is much sharper financially than Mr. Trudeau will ever be.
There are evidences all over that are showing us the folly of counting on riches. Jesus warned about this in Matthew 6.
Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
I am not going to pretend to be a financial advisor. God is the best financial advisor there is. He knows the fleeting nature of material things. Whether rich or poor, we need His wisdom to handle whatever riches we have, wisely.
James tells us that the danger is that the rich heap their treasures in the wrong place. Some have stated that they are pulling at least some of their money out of the banks because they have witnessed how the government can freeze bank accounts on a whim. The problem is that the government can also make cash worthless. There was a period of time during the Wuhan virus debacle where stores did not want to handle cash. They were afraid it would transmit the virus. It is better to invest heavily in the Lord’s legitimate work, than to invest heavily into earthly schemes.
In verse 4 James rebuked the rich for hiring labourers to do their “dirty” work and then refusing to pay them what was owed them. God sees the cry of those who are defrauded by these schemes. This is not in support of unions. Unions are very corrupt. They are involved in things no born again Christian can support.
God shows us here and elsewhere that there is no need for unions. There is a need to know the true God and serve Him. As people we tend to want “justice” now. God wants all people to be saved. That is of greater concern than whether we have been defrauded by some crooked business person. God does not force anyone to be saved. He shows all that it is wise to be saved and to serve Him. He leaves the choice up to the individual. He warns of the dire consequences of choosing to reject Him, but He still leaves the choice up to the individual.
God’s justice is right and it is merciful and good. Those who are saved need to be reminded that His justice is right for all people. It is enacted in His time and according to His will. James was content to serve God as He wanted him to. He was willing to trust God to meet his needs during his short time on this earth and into eternity. James is resting in God’s blessings in glory right now. There are many of his time that missed out on those blessings because they chose to believe a lie. There are those who were saved at that time, who were saved though as by fire. They have missed out on God’s blessings and they also missed out on their dreams with their earthly possessions.
Once again we are reminded of the importance of choosing wisely. No one can out-smart God. He knows all things and He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He created this world and the resources are His. Choose to follow Him and learn contentment in walking with Him.