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Sunday, March 25, 2012

40 Days with James ~ Day 33 ~ Rotten Wealth

Day 33 ~ Rotten Wealth

James 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 and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.

It is not a sin to be rich. To be sure, wealth can be the cause of many problems. St. Paul tells Timothy, "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (I Timothy 6:9-10). So, it is not a sin to have money. But, money can easily become a god to us, the worship of which causes us to wander from the faith.

Today in our reading, James is not talking to rich Christians. He is talking to those whose god is their belly (Philippians 3:19). They worship money. James is proclaiming, in harsh and frightening terms, the end result of such false worship: impending misery. Money and wealth is fleeting. The riches and the glories of this world are passing away and are doomed to destruction. Clinging to idols bound for destruction will lead idolaters to destruction. This is true, not just for the faithless rich, but for anyone who clings to any kind of a false god.

What is more, this group of people James is writing against is attacking the church of God! They have lived in luxury and self-indulgence at the cost of the lives of God's "workmen." They have condemned a murdered innocent men. Incidentally, a better translation of "innocent men" is "the Righteous Man." It is likely that James is associating their persecution of the church with the crucifixion of Jesus himself (see also Acts 9:4)!

Thus, the sins that James is dealing with here are not only those that come from the love of wealth, but false worship and the persecution of Christ and His church! The church of God can expect persecution and suffering, just as her Lord endured. The world will hate the church just as it hated her Lord. But, Jesus says, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:10). True wealth and riches are for us found in Christ. But, let us not miss James harsh condemnations today. God will deal justly with those who have rejected His grace for wealth and persecuted His family.

Confession: Heavenly Father, I thank you that you have rescued me from darkness and brought me into the kingdom of the Son you love. I confess to you that I am often tempted by the luxuries of this world. I cling too tightly to earthly possessions. Forgive me for being drawn to such false worship and teach me to rejoice in your boundless, merciful gifts, especially your dear Son Jesus, my Lord. AMEN!

Challenge: Next time you are out, leave a very large tip.

Pastor Bob

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