FRIDAY, MAY 1
SCRIPTURE: JAMES 5:1-6
Author: Jeremy Witt
I realize that I am breaking away from the chapter readings in James. By the way that James wrote, it lends our discussion to such a wide variety, I have taken the approach of bite-sized bites. Plus, as so many of you requested James, I have enjoyed it myself. Today’s reading deals with wealth, greed, money, stewardship, and this has been something we have experienced during this virus season of COVID-19 or the ‘Rona.
One of the big things our nation has been hit with is the loss of jobs, loss of income, loss at the stock market, etc. One of our nations’ idols is our wealth as many have already mentioned and discussed. It is very easy for our “things or possessions” to become an idol in our lives. Just as we have learned that our entertainment is an idol, more and more are concerned over the economy. Am I saying that this is not important? No, I am not saying that. However, there is a fine line from concern to a commitment to or worshipping. Money has always been a struggle for humanity. James is addressing it here in these verses. Are we weeping over our financial losses? Yes! Are we groaning or howling? It depends on how much you have lost at this point I imagine. But our nation is doing this, is it not? Sounds like James got that right. Verses two and three are happening right in front of us as we speak. I meet with a couple of young adult men in a Bible study. Last night when we meet, they were talking about the losses in stocks that they have lost and some of the companies filing for bankruptcy. It doesn’t matter the ages, people have lost financially. James is hitting the nail on the head for us today, and this was written nearly 2000 years ago! Here is the point that we need to get and “put that behind the thick skulls of ours.” (I have told this a LOT in my lifetime!)
What is the purpose of James bringing up money? Trusting in our wealth is worthless. IF Jesus is our Savior and LORD, we must trust HIM, not money. Jesus said that we cannot serve both God and mammon or money. Jesus talked about money more than He did about heaven and hell! Did you know that? Why? Because money has, does, and will cause humanity to falsely trust it. James is not saying that that the rich people are worthless but trusting in our things is truly worthless. Money is a tool to use to provide for families and to use to serve God’s kingdom, which we all know. It crosses lines when we accumulate or store up, and then use to hold others down or oppress, money has become a god. Romans 12:1-2 speaks loudly to this. Jesus spoke openly and bluntly on the matter as well. Maybe Joseph was the blunt parent who spoke like this, but both boys got it from somewhere.
Verse 5 speaks accurately about our culture. The book of Judges uses similar phrasing “satisfying every desire”, “doing as they pleased”, or “every man did as they thought was right.” Mankind has been consumed with greed since the very beginning.
Verse 6 is an interesting one for us today. What is James referring to? “Innocent” or “righteous” is referring to defenseless people. The poor, the orphan, the widow, and those whom you didn’t pay as much as you should have. It would be those who couldn’t pay their bills. If you didn’t pay, you were thrown into prison on that day. They stayed there until they could pay their bills which is an oxymoron in my view. How could you pay bills if you could not work? This would be a lifetime sentence unless someone else paid your bill for you.
Yet this is exactly what Jesus did for ALL of us. He paid a bill that we could never pay. Jesus’ act of mercy can keep us from prison (hell) if we will accept His sacrifice and allow Him to be LORD in our lives. When we have what Jesus offers, it helps us to have a proper perspective with others when we are living for HIM.