Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on 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 workers 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 the innocent one, who was not opposing you. James 5, verses 1-6.
Let’s take these verses together today because it’s a fitting day to do so. New Year’s Eve is a good time to take stock of what we’ve done. This year has been a tough one for folks I know because the economy is in bad shape, prices are high for most everything, and real unemployment is higher than it has been in nearly 80 years. And yet, we are wealthy.
Now, if you’re juggling bills like we do, you don’t feel very wealthy. If you’re having a hard time making ends meet, you don’t feel wealthy. If you’ve declared bankruptcy, or at least missed payments, or are having to pay minimum balances, you don’t feel too wealthy. In a depression like this one, it’s hard for even the well-off folks around us to feel wealthy about anything.
Here’s part one of your reality check. Go to rural China. Or anywhere in India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh. Visit most of the nations in Africa, or South America. Even the poorest of our poor in the Yazoo delta, inner city Detroit, or deep Appalachia are shockingly wealthy compared to how the folks in those other countries live. Here ends the guilt motivation.
What’s more, the important part of checking reality is to realize what real wealth means. Have you forgotten already? Wasn’t it just six days ago that we each remembered how Jesus of Nazareth, God Immanuel, Alpha and Omega, King of Kings and Lord of Lords was born unto us in a humble manger? If the poorest child in Uganda knows that the sovereign of the universe once rose as a baby from similar privation, then that poorest child is wealthier than the richest man at the bank.
Tonight we bid farewell to an old year come to close, while welcoming an untried new one into existence. Today, let’s close out our business with what’s done, and weep only now for the misused riches of this year. Let’s lay them at the manger…and at the cross. Then tomorrow, let’s begin again in a new year knowing that, as long as we’ve got Jesus, we’ve got all the riches we could ever want.
Happy New Year, Lord. Thanks for Your blessings, a year complete, and a new gift of one to unwrap.
What are you doing for New Years?
Which are you: rich or poor?
Say a prayer at midnight, a prayer of thanks and a prayer of thankful hope…then have fun.