Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. James 5, verse 1.
That’ll teach them! Those darn rich people deserve every bit of misery they get because most of them don’t work the way REAL people do. They’re just a bunch of greedy bloodsuckers who deserve to get punished for the way they keep the man down!
Please, not today; let’s spare each other the class warfare. Besides, maybe that isn’t all James is talking about. Maybe he is warning all of us to not think we’re too big for our britches. It’s a spirit thing. True: he’s warning wealthy people to not think affluence is some kind of shock absorber from sin or calamity. Case in point: if you put all your money on Twitter stock last Thursday, by Friday you had lost 14% of your money (betting on a company than makes and produces nothing). Wealth can evaporate like water, which is one of the reasons God implores us not to cling to it. In fact, James spends the next six verses talking about how we misuse wealth against each other.
Yet I think there’s another point crying out instead, especially since James had just spent the verses immediately prior to us imploring us to be humble. Perhaps it’s better to read it as Jesus’ warning to all of us to not cling to anything of this world. He is warning us to not oppress each other…period. Especially as regards our wealth, but we shouldn’t try to keep each other down no matter what. Do you have a lean bank account but are rich in knowledge and don’t share that knowledge? Oppressor. Do you have many possessions to share but don’t? Oppressor. Do you have the ability to do something but instead elect to always stay safe and sound in your living room? Oppressor.
See what I mean?
Fact is, especially where there is affluence, we could each be considered rich in many ways. It isn’t my place or yours to judge how someone is using their gifts: it’s our place to judge how we are using the gifts God gave to us. And if we find we have had the “mine, mine, mine” attitude that you might find in a two-year-old or a stereotypical millionaire, then we need a gut check. Bully for those who are doing well these days; I wish them well, and I hope they aren’t juggling bills like the rest of us. I hope they don’t look down on me for it because I don’t look down on them for doing whatever they do. My prayer is that God isn’t ashamed of either of us.
Generous Lord, bless those who have that they may share with those who have not, and help me to see how very richly you’ve blessed me so I can do the same.
Are you rich or poor in spirit?
How are you using the gifts the Lord gave to you?
Do you need a gut check?