So…You Wanna Be Rich? – James 5:1-10

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts. You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter. You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous one; he offers you no resistance. Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brothers, about one another, that you may not be judged. Behold the Judge is standing before the gates. Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Indeed we call blessed those who have persevered . You have heard of the perseverance of  Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord because,”the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” But above all my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath, but let your “Yes” mean “Yes” and your “No” mean “No”, that you may not incur condemnation.  

Before James moves forward from his teaching on boasting in our arrogance, he gives us an example of what this arrogance looks like and a warning of what it will bring.

Throughout the scriptures, there are warnings against the rich and the fate that awaits them. Why? It’s because of the attitude of the heart (here is another recurring theme in his letter). In who do we trust? In riches, or in God?

Then Jesus said to his disciples: Amen, I say to you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Matt.19:23-24  

While riches may bring luxury and pleasure for a short time here on earth, is it worth exchanging the luxury and pleasure of the kingdom of heaven?

Though he warns the rich of the judgement that awaits them, he also commands the true disciples of Jesus to show patience for the coming of the Lord. For as sure as the judgement of the rich shall come, so shall the vindication of God’s people.

James gives words of encouragement that though we may be suffering now for a short time, our reward will be great if we persevere through them. He brings our thoughts to Job – and to all the prophets who suffered at the hands of the unrighteous, all of who are experiencing now the compassion and mercy of the Lord.

You could call it the “you can pay me now or you can pay me later” theological approach. Suffer a little now and have eternal happiness or have earthly happiness and suffer throughout eternity. Much like the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16: 19-31).

There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen; and feasted sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, who lay at his gate, full of sores, Desiring to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table, and no one did give him; moreover the dogs came, and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. And the rich man also died: and he was buried in hell. And lifting up his eyes when he was in torments, he saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom: And he cried, and said: Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool my tongue: for I am tormented in this flame. And Abraham said to him: Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted; and thou art tormented. And besides all this, between us and you, there is fixed a great chaos: so that they who would pass from hence to you, cannot, nor from thence come hither. And he said: Then, father, I beseech thee, that thou wouldst send him to my father’s house, for I have five brethren, That he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torments. And Abraham said to him: They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. But he said: No, father Abraham: but if one went to them from the dead, they will do penance. And he said to him: If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe, if one rise again from the dead.

With all this in mind, James now calls us to remember Jesus’ command in Matthew 5: 33-37, “Again you have heard that it was said to them of old, Thou shalt not forswear thyself: but thou shalt perform thy oaths to the Lord. But I say to you not to swear at all, neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God: Nor by the earth, for it is his footstool: nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king: Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil.

The purpose of the oath in Old Testament times was to guarantee truthfulness by the one calling on God as a witness. We, as God’s children, being indwelt by the Holy Spirit should let our word guarantee our truthfulness because of that fact alone. Because He is the faithful witness (Rev. 1:5).

So this week, let us be patient in our sufferings, whether it’s physical, emotional, financial or even spiritual, remember; the promise of God is granted through perseverance. Let us also remember to be a people of our word. Who we are often reflects who God is to others. Let’s live in a manner worthy of the Gospel!


2 Responses

  1. “Let us also remember to be a people of our word. Who we are often reflects who God is to others. Let’s live in a manner worthy of the Gospel!”

    Amen! Thanks again for the challenge, encouragement, and reminder. Let’s do it!


  2. Would if I said I don’t wanna be rich but blessed because god dose want us to have good things but he wants us to stay humble to because we do need monney right we just can’t worship it cuzz god don’t care if we had 10,0000$ but are we going to help someone that’s in need of money and blessed them I would wanto that’s why my state of mind is I wanna be blessed not rich so I can stay humble count all my blessings like bible says

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