Read: James 5:1-6
These words in James 5 are pretty harsh and to the point. But at this point, what else would we expect from James? He is authentic and direct, my kinda guy. As I read this I instantly want to disclude myself from needing to gain application from these verses. I want to pass on by, reading quickly saying that I haven’t “refused wages” or “condemned and murdered people who have God’s approval” but a slower read and a closer examination of my heart says that it’s not true.
James 5: 1 starts out with who the audience is by saying “Pay attention to this if you’re rich”. Now, depending on who I compare myself to I could convince myself fairly easily that I am not very rich at all. But, when I gain a little perspective and widen the criteria to me compared to the whole world not just my piece of it the statistics beg to differ. I am sure you have heard it said that “If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of the world.” and “If you have money in the bank, your wallet, and some spare change you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.”
I may not have much extra money in my bank account, but it is there. I make it every month. I have food, clothes, and a home. Compared to those without, I am rich. This passage is for me and my guess is that it is for you too.
So here is the warning and the meat of James 5:1-6. Stop storing up riches. Similar to Matthew 6:19 where Jesus admonishes us to not store up for ourselves treasures on earth. I heard a pastor recently preach on this verse in Matthew and his perspective helped mine a lot. He pointed out that Jesus said don’t store up for yourself treasures on earth with the idea being that the treasure we store up here is to be for the benefit of others. We store it up in order to allow it to flow through our hands into the lives of others. And as we do that we are storing up treasures in heaven.
James says that the treasure we store up here, for ourselves, will be corroded and like fire it will destroy us. And in this greed of wealth storing we haven’t only hurt ourselves we have hurt others.
This is challenging for you and me who live in the world today. We are told to build our bank accounts, have more than enough, take care of ourselves and families financially. Our goal above all else is a comfortable, financially secure life. Yet, in James it is clear that if we live for luxury and pleasure here on earth we have fattened ourselves for the days of slaughter. As we say here in Minnesota – Oofta.
The good news? God is gracious. He is faithful. He has a plan. And as we seek his face, he will reveal himself to us along with his plan for our lives, and our wealth.
1. Will you surrender your wealth to God today weather you deem it big or small to do what he says with it?
2. Are there areas in your life where you struggle to trust God with your finances? Will you confess those to him today and ask for his help?