James 5:1-3 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon 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.
These 3 verses have always troubled me, which is probably why I have tended to avoid them. The thing that troubles me most about them is that James makes it clear throughout his letter that he is writing to professing Christian believers, like me. Before I realised this, I used to think, “If only all those worldly rich materialists out there, who have no place for God in their self-serving lives, would face up to how God feels about such selfish behaviour!” Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:1 come to mind: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”!
If the Holy Spirit led James to write these harsh words to believers like me, then it’s undoubtedly important that I bring my life under their purview for examination rather than think about how relevant they might be to others.
So here we go: If I am in (my) last days, am I ready to give an account to my Saviour – the One who, for my sake, became so poor (2 Corinthians 8:9) – concerning how I have used all the rich resources he has entrusted to my care?
I know it isn’t easy for us to decide how much we should give away, and how much we should save so that we, and those who daily depend on us, don’t become a burden to others, but, nevertheless it is helpful to keep James’ challenge constantly before us when we are confronted with the situation in Africa, India, Sri Lanka, and so many other places that appear on our radar so often.
I think Jeffery Leech may have had the whole Epistle of James in mind when he wrote: “Let your heart be broken for a world in need, feed the mouths that hunger, soothe the wounds that bleed; give the cup of water and the loaf of bread, be the hands of Jesus serving in his stead. Here on earth applying principles of love; visible expressions God still rules above, living illustration of the Living Word to the minds of all who’ve never seen or heard. Add to your believing deeds that prove it true; knowing Christ as Saviour, make him Master, too. Follow in his footsteps, go where he has trod, in the world’s great trouble risk yourself for God. Let your heart be tender and your vision clear; see mankind as God sees, serve him far and near. Let your heart be broken by a brother’s pain, share your rich resources, give, and give again.”
– Bruce Christian