Thursday, August 12, 2010

August 12, 2010

"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." James 5:4-6

Rich people seem to be easy targets for criticism. Many novels and movies have portrayed the wealthy as villains and bad guys.

Robin Hood stole from the rich to give to the poor. He was the good guy.

It is a little disingenuous of us to hassle the rich because who among us wouldn't choose to be rich given the opportunity.

In this portion of Scripture James gives us some insights on why the rich are often despised.

The Rich Tend To Show Insensitivity
These rich people were hoarding their riches while the less fortunate around them were hurting. Either they were out of touch with the needs of others or they just didn't care. Either way it does not endear them to anyone. At a time when they could have been helping others and relieving some suffering they were feathering their own nests.
Because they were insensitive and uncaring about the needs of others, they were resented by most of their neighbors.
The Rich Tend To Be Indulgent
While these rich were ignoring the hurting people around them they were living the good life and
enjoying themselves. They were living it up while others were just struggling to live at all. In the face of the suffering around them they were sitting fat and having fun. Rather than helping others out of their extra cash they were being excessive and extravagant in their luxurious lifestyle.

The Rich Were Creating Injustice
In order to be able to assure they had plenty of money to induldge their every desire, these wealthy folks were withholding wages owed to those who worked for them. Not only were they depriving others of what they had earned, they failed to lift a finger to defend those who were wrongly accused of an offense. Some were using their wealth to bribe the judges and corrupt the justice system. They were lending credence to the old joke about the Golden Rule meaning that those who have the gold make all the rules.

It is not hard to see why these wealthy people were despised and resented. Their behavior was reprehensible and for those who were believers, this behavior was sinful. But the question remained, was it their riches that corrupted them or was it their corrupt natures that misused their wealth?

James reminds us that spiritual wealth is far more important than financial wealth. Treasuring God and His will is the true source of wealth. Knowing God's luxurious love and His extravagant grace is the true measure of wealth. People who possess that overcome insensitity, give generously and do justice.

Are you rich toward God? If not, poor you!