Summary: This is the 10th of 11 Studies on the Bok of James, which contains a warning to the rich and also words of comfort to those who are facing persecution on account of their faith.

James 5:1-6

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! 2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. 4 Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. 5 You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.

After talking about not speaking ill of, and judging one another, and about the need to make plans according to the will of God, and not boast about our plans as if we are sure they will happen, James then turns his attention to the rich people who are not living the way the Lord wants them to live. Let’s look at what James has to say to them. It seems like he is talking about the rich people who are not Christians, because later he addresses the believers in verse 7 when he tells them to be patient. Let’s see what he tells the rich people of the day.

He begins by telling the rich to weep and howl in advance of the miseries that are to come upon them. He talks about this misery they will suffer with a tone of certainty, and not as if it were a possibility. It seems that the rich are going to suffer in a way that’s going to result in them weeping and howling and he tells them to do that even before that misery comes upon them.

He goes on to talk about the nature of their riches and uses terms to describe how useless and empty they are to save one from God’s judgment and eternal condemnation. He uses the words, ‘corrupted,’ ‘moth-eaten’ and ‘corroded,’ meaning that they will not hold any value on that Day of Judgment. He then says that these riches will be a witness against them and will consume their flesh like fire would. He goes on to say that the rich had heaped up or stored up treasure in the last days. The riches that the rich people possessed were not being earned well or used well, but were rather being hoarded for a rainy day, but instead a Day of Judgment was coming when that wealth would have been of no use.

James goes on to explain the process by which the rich made their wealth. They did so by not paying their laborers what was due them, which means they were either not paying them or they were under-paying them for their labor. He says that two cries were going up to God – that of the wages that were not paid the laborers and that of the reapers themselves. He adds that these cries had reached the ears of the Lord of the heavenly armies, making it clear that the Lord will certainly pay heed to those cries and deal with the rich.

James goes on to tell the rich that they have lived on the earth in luxury and pleasure and have made themselves fat as a result, and adds that it is in preparation for the day of slaughter, thereby making reference to oxen and cows that are made fat for the slaughter. This further strengthens his warning that judgment is coming upon the rich. He then goes on to say that they had condemned and murdered those who were just and upright in order to amass more wealth, and adds that though they did that, they did not resist them. So it appears that the rich people had got rich at other people’s expense, including their very lives and it was a certainty that God was going to deal with them for all their ill-gotten gain.

Though it does seem like he’s talking to the rich people of the world, the world has changed a lot since then, and there are many in the church today who are as guilty of the same things as these people were back then. So many live for none but themselves, making money at the expense of other people, taking lives of people so as to increase their wealth, under-paying or not paying laborers who work for them, and for all this, such rich believers can be sure that the same fate awaits them as well.

Let’s examine our own hearts to see if we find ourselves guilty of the above sins of selfishness and greed, and repent if we have to, lest we find ourselves awaiting the same fate that James warned the rich about.

Copy Sermon to Clipboard with PRO Download Sermon with PRO
Browse All Media

Related Media

Talk about it...

Nobody has commented yet. Be the first!

Join the discussion