Wealth with Responsibility. James 5:1-6.

May 21st, 2009

James 5:1-6.

5:1.  Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you!
 5:2.  Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.
 5:3.  Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days.
 5:4.  Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.
 5:5.  You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.
 5:6.  You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.
Wealth With Responsibility.

It sounds like people back in James day could have used a good labor union. Rich people getting richer, and not taking into consideration the efforts of the poor people who work for them.

Having wealth isn't bad in itself. It's what we do with our wealth. If God has given you wealth, and it has to be you because it sure isn't me, we are to look after the welfare of our workers. Not necessarily every single poor person who comes to us with a hand out, although there is a place for that, a person of wealth has the duty to make sure his employees don't live in substandard living conditions. That doesn't mean that everybody in your business has the right to make the same wage as the owner, but that even the lowest level employee should be able to provide for his basic needs.

Once your own employees are taken care of, and there is still a way to help, that's when you look to provide charity for the poor at large. God doesn't want to have you give away all your money. It is a way to give you a blessing. With that blessing comes responsibility to manage it well.

For those of us who may not be wealthy, there is still a message. With the wealth that we do have, we should be responsible, a good steward in how we spend it. The members of our household are like the employees of the rich man in this passage. We need to make sure we care for our family members first. Giving to others is a blessing in itself. It is a strange thing to say, to give away when we might think that we don't have the resource to give, but God has promised in other places that we can test him in this way. He has a way of returning our wealth to us, magnified.

It is interesting to note that James says that these rich men are storing up treasures. What kind of treasures? They store up their gold and silver, but what is the end affect as they stand before God in his kingdom? What benefit does making store houses of gold bring? Corrosion, decay, instead of having any real value, it burns the flesh. Ouch.

Each day we live our lives, we store things for ourselves in heaven. What are you storing up in heaven? the fruits of material wealth, or the fruits of the Spirit?

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