Rich people will weep and wail in misery. Wait. What? Why? Is it wrong to have money? To have a lot of money? What could be wrong with that? Why would the Bible say the rich will weep and wail in misery? Selfish hoarding of anything (money… time… friendship… love…) is withholding from those in need.
Jms. 5:1-6 “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon 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 workmen 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 ad self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men who were not opposing you.”
In the first verses of chapter 5, God through James soundly condemns hoarded wealth used for self-indulgence and power mongering. Instead of investing God’s blessing of wealth in his kingdom work or for the benefit of the poor, hiring those who need a job and paying them well and on time, they spend it on increasing luxury. In their wanton use of power they are contributing to the murder of innocents.
Nowhere in scripture is wealth condemned for its own sake. It’s the love of it, the misuse, squandering, exploitation and dissipation that can accompany great wealth. We see it in the media all the time, don’t we?
We may think we see it around us in daily life as well and we need to be wary of jumping to conclusions. We don’t really know the financial responsibilities of those who seem to have a great deal of money and we certainly don’t know how they spread it around. They may be very generous with those in need, missionaries and various aspects of God’s work in the world.
The question comes down to you and me. We are wealthy, too. We have been blessed with sufficient income to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table and own a computer with which we access blogs. Are we hoarding or are we generous? Do we pay generously and on time those we hire to do various things for us? Are we self-indulgent with the blessings God has showered upon us? Or are we good stewards, treating his gifts in ways that bring glory to him?