Come now, you rich people! Weep and wail over the miseries that are coming on you. Your wealth is ruined and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your silver and gold are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You stored up treasure in the last days! Look! The pay that you withheld from the workers who reaped your fields cries out, and the outcry of the harvesters has reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts. You have lived luxuriously on the land and have indulged yourselves. You have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter. You have condemned — you have murdered — the righteous man; he does not resist you.
This passage always brings trepidation into my being. It is so easy to look at this and pass judgement on all of those ‘wealthy people’; however, to be fair, I am the wealthy man. We are the nation of abundant wealth filled with those who have material blessings galore. Pleasure is our focus. Money is our means. We are the ‘rich people’ James alludes to; however, we do not have to be those who fit God’s bill of condemnation.
This word singles out those who are wealthy as well as dishonest and gratuitously self indulgent. This rich man’s focus is on his own riches. His goal is to increase his stash at anyone’s expense so that he might indulge his own lusts. He condemns, even murders, the righteous man. He is selfish, calling good evil and evil good that he might benefit personally. His fate is secure. He will not escape the wrath of God.
We who are wealthy; i.e. 99.9% of America, must never forget the temptations and responsibilities that accompany wealth. Jesus said it was truly easier for a camel to slide through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to Heaven. For those who take Lord Jesus and His Word seriously and seek to please Him this is a terrifying thought. We are truly saved by grace alone. It is our only hope of salvation. Not only will our wealth not save us, it might very easily lead to our destruction. We must be those who are more than fair with others even to our own hurt (Psalm 15). Generosity must be at the heart of who we are. We have received so much how can we not share it? Every single penny earned or received is because of the Father of Lights. He is the source of every good gift. His generosity is overwhelming. Ours must be also. Nothing we have is our own nor was it gained through our own, individual effort.
Generosity, integrity and fairness must characterize the wealthy believer for this reflects the character of the One who has granted these blessings.