2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.
It is as if James has followed up on our discussion from yesterday (Enter God’s Kingdom a Rich or Poor Man) describing why it is so hard for the rich to enter God’s Kingdom. Often the “haves” want even more and they’re not always careful about how they get it. Is seems that greed is not restricted to our time.
Today, many corporate leaders are more interested in building up their own bank accounts than they are about whether or not their employees can pay their bills. Many companies will use only part-time workers, or those from temporary agencies so that they will not have to pay for health insurance or other benefits for their employees. Of course, the heads of these companies are not the only ones to blame as stockholders often press these executives to cut costs to increase profits so that they too can make money from the work of others. Companies have been known to declare bankruptcy so that they don’t have to honor debts, or they claim that the work was shoddy and refuse to pay. Greed is behind many other sins.
It is very true, however, that many wealthy men and women have sponsored charities that help the poor. They have established scholarships for those unable to afford a good education. They maintain health clinics and hospitals to reach those who would otherwise have no access to health care. James’ words are not designed to condemn wealth, just the misuse of it and the lack of concern for the welfare of others. Greed can also lead to misusing what we have even if we are not wealthy. It is up to each one of us to look at what we prize in life. Is God first? Are we concerned about our family and their welfare, or is our primary concern for ourselves and whatever it is that gives us pleasure?
Lord, please help us to be honest in our dealings with others and to put you and the needs of others first. Amen.