Do we need to ‘weep and wail’?

James 5:1-6, like much of this letter believed to have been authored by Jesus’ brother, is confronting in its message. This time James takes aim at the rich in this world.

The ‘rich’ James refers to have oppressed the poor, paid their own workers unjustly and hoarded wealth while ensuring that the innocent in society are wrongly condemned. Their lavish lifestyle amounts to nothing, and will lead to condemnation.

The rich are not to ‘weep and wail’ simply because they are rich, but rather because of the ill-gotten means by which they have become rich. That is, the means by which they have become rich reveals how far their hearts are from God.

The fact that how we gain our money, and the way in which we then deal with it, is revealing of our true hearts will hardly be anything new to many of us. Again and again Jesus’ preaching focused on our ‘treasure’ being where our heart is.

The parable of the two house-builders, while not specifically focused on money, reveals that ignorance of Jesus’ teaching on this point will be like building a house on sand in term of its eternal consequences. However, placing our treasure not in money but in Jesus will result in enduring treasure.

The very personal question for each of us is whether this message continues to sink in. Have our hearts become dull to the repeated biblical message to trust not in money but The Lord, or will we let it continue to sink in as we read it in the Word regularly by then seeking to love our God and neighbour above all other things?

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One thought on “Do we need to ‘weep and wail’?

  1. As a ‘rich’ person, particularly by 3rd world standards, I found Verses 1-3 were a little hard to stomach, judgement against my hoarded wealth sounds a bit terrifying. As I continued reading verses 4-6 I felt a little better, perhaps James isn’t talking to me after all. John Dickson and Simon Smart, in Vital Signs p189 suggest that James is condemning the rich for gaining their wealth at the expense of the poor and that these verses are designed to comfort the oppressed (a prophetic lament).
    Although I don’t deliberately oppress the poor I do wonder if I am doing enough to support those much less fortunate than myself and will I be judged for having clothes in the wardrobe which the moths will eat. Does my lifestyle, in this beautiful wealthy country, lead to the oppression of God’s people in other parts of the world?
    Lord Jesus, thank you that you love me in spite of all my weaknesses.
    Thank you, Mark, for your thoughts on this reading.

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