I haven't posted in a few days, primarily, because I have kept reading and re-reading James 5, unsure of what The Lord wants me to take away from this chapter right now. James starts with a warning to the wealthy:
James 5:1-3 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 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.
Because I was uncertain of the first half of this chapter, I decided to read some commentary. Both commentaries I read made the point that James is addressing wealthy land owners of that day. The other thing that is made clear in the verses that follow is that these are corrupt land owners:
James 5:4-6 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. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
It would be easy for us to zip by this with an attitude of, “yea, they will get what's coming to them.” But before we do that, let's consider what one of the other commentaries said. The wealthy land owners had more than what they needed to live comfortably; which in and of itself was not the problem. The problem was what they did with the excess. I would contend that the majority of people in the United States have in excess of what they need to live comfortably; which in and of itself is not the problem. The problem lies in the hearts of men. What are they doing with their excess? Are they living in pleasure and luxury with total disregard for God's will? After all, if we have it, God gave it. Is there any desire to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ with your resources? Before you write me off as a socialist that only desires to redistribute wealth, understand that I am only reading God's Word. God's Word also says, if you don't work, you don't eat. So, I am definitely not talking about taking from one group to give to another out of “fairness”. I am talking about being committed to serving God with our finances. How much, is between you and God, I don't have the answer to that. But I know that when we seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, we will be sensitive to His leading on this issue.
Luke 12:16-31 And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' 18 And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' 20 But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God." 22 And he said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
I was thinking this morning how interesting it is to look at peoples Facebook wall. You really see what is most important to a person (to some extent) by what their “wall” looks like. If it is their children, you can tell....if it is sports, you can see that also.....etc. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, as in the case with my wife; our kids are everything to her, but she doesn't post much about the kids, or pictures of them, because in her mind, she doesn't want to endanger them by putting information out in the public domain. This makes sense. On the other hand, in every case, what our check ledger and credit card statements look like give a very clear picture of what we are all about.
Matthew 6:19-21 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.