It is so important to read God’s Word in context. This verse left to itself, or taken out-of-context, will lead us to believe that all rich people are doomed for no other reason than that they are wealthy. When you read the verses that follow it is easy to see that it isn’t the wealth of those James is warning, but what they did with their wealth that led James to warn them. In the four verses that follow James statement we can learn so much about the character, or lack of character, of the wealthy folks that James had in mind when he wrote vs. 1.
3 …You have hoarded wealth in the last days. (James 5:3 NIV)
4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. (James 5:4 NIV)
5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. (James 5:5 NIV)
6 You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you. (James 5:6 NIV)
“Wealth” is such a relative word. Is Mark Zuckerberg wealthy? Of course he is. Am I wealthy? Compared to the rest of the world that lives on next to nothing? You better believe I am. What I do with what God has given me is even more important than what God has given me. Do I use the resources God has given me to bless the lives of others. Do I have an insatiable appetite for more, more that keeps me from sharing with those around me? Do I try to cheat laborers, try to negotiate the most meager price, instead of honoring them for their work? These are such important questions for me to constantly ask myself. Better yet, these are important questions for me to take to God. “Lord, search me and show me my heart.”
My prayer today, Lord, is that You will keep me mindful of the fact that You have blessed me to be a blessing to those around me.