Summary: In the musical Annie, Annie was an eternal optimist. Her reoccurring promise was, “The sun will come out tomorrow.” Unfortunately, real life is not always as promising as the little orphan said it was. God wants you to know that tomorrow can be hopeful bu
”Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. 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. 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. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you. Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! …” (James 5:1-11)
In the musical Annie, Annie was an eternal optimist. Her reoccurring promise was, “The sun will come out tomorrow.” Unfortunately, real life is not always as promising as the little orphan said it was. God wants you to know that tomorrow can be hopeful but it is because of the Son of God!
I. The False Promise of Wealth (vv.1-6)
The Bible never condemns the accumulation of wealth, only the abuse of wealth. It is not a sin to have riches, but it is a sin to hoard them. In Ecclesiastes 5:13, Solomon wrote, "There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their own hurt."
A. Riches Are Insecure (vv.1-3)
Verse one reminds us that wealth cannot protect anyone from judgment (v.1). The word howl means to cry aloud in great distress. It actually describes the wailing sound a person makes when he is overwhelmed by grief or pain. James is referring to the misery and grief that will come upon the rich in the Day of Judgment at Christ’s return. We are told in Scripture to “Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty” (Isaiah 13:6, see also Jeremiah 4:8-9). The misery of the rich will be greater because of the trust they put in their possessions and positions. The rich man in hell cried: “I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24).
Wealth cannot prevent judgment and it cannot prevent future loss (vv.2-3). James looks ahead and sees the silos of the rich full of rotting grain and their closets full of moth-eaten garments. He foresees a day when their wealth will be worthless. Every generation has had its financial busts. The 1920’s – 30’s saw the Great Depression. The 1970’s – 80’s saw the collapse of the oil business and long gas lines. This last year has seen the failure of many of the .com companies.
Scripture reminds us repeatedly of the fleeting nature of earthly possession. "…riches certainly make themselves wings, they fly away …" (Proverbs 23:5). "…he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:6). "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal ..." (Matthew 6:19-20).
B. Riches Carry Injustice (vv.4-6)
Not only are riches insecure but riches often carry with them a great injustice (vv.4-6). Too often the rich take advantage of the poor (v.4). Passages such as Deuteronomy 24:14-15 and Malachi 3:15 warn us that the sin of the rich taking advantage of the poor. God places the sin of exploiting the poor right beside the sin of witchcraft. He sees it as a sin against Himself. Taking advantage of the poor is an evidence of a lack of respect for the Creator and His creation.
The good fortunes of the rich are often deceptive (v.5). James reminds the rich of their habit of squandering their wealth on pleasures and luxuries. He compares them to livestock that is fattened for slaughter.” They are like beasts gorging themselves on their last meal, not knowing that very day they would be slaughtered.
II. The Faithful Patience of the Believer (vv.7-9)
A. Our Hope (v.7)
Believers cannot live for the kind of tomorrow that wealthy unbelievers do! We look forward to a different tomorrow. We do so because of the hope that we have (v.7). Our hope is found in the coming return of our Savior. The return of Christ is one of the most frequent subjects of prophecy. One out of every 30 verses in the Bible mentions the subject of Christ’s return or the end of time. Of the 216 chapters in the New Testament, there are over 300 references to Christ’s return. Only 4 of the 27 books of the New Testament fail to mention His return.