1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! 4 Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. 5 You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.
James now turns to the unbeliever. He essentially references the same things Jesus did in regards to earthly treasures. That it will all turn to rust, dust, and moth-consumed ruin. I believe his words here are harsh and extreme for a reason: to wake people up.
It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! My study bible annotates that in recent days, they have more than ever tried to gather up more and more worldly treasures. I believe this is an ongoing occurrence. Especially as the world’s economy continues to “threaten the livelihood” of everyone, they try to hoard as much as they can for fear of not having anything. Verse 4 explains the extremity of this by explaining how this fear is so severe that they even withheld the due wages to their laborers. How many companies do we complain about today that seemingly keeps all the profits for themselves, cuts jobs to “save money,” and we don’t see much, if any, of the remaining profits? If you think this isn’t the case, just google “Occupy Wall Street.” Regardless of who is right or wrong, the cries remain.
The outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. The Lord of Sabaoth is a reference to God from the Old Testament. It means the Lord of Hosts or the Lord Almighty. I take comfort in this because Christ told us in Mathew 5:4, “Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
James shows the gluttony of such worldly people and explains that their luxurious living and wanton pleasure has condemned the righteous, although they do not resist. Why don’t they resist? Because it is futile. What’s the point of fighting over something that doesn’t truly matter? Why would we work so hard to preserve riches on earth when we know it’s all “dust in the wind.” WE are but dust in the wind, so what’s the point? We stand firm knowing we have secured our treasures in heaven and have forever embalmed our souls with Christ. As we are called home, we will be called to live an even more glorious life with our God than anyone has ever lived or will ever live here on earth.
I heard a commercial today on the radio about buying $10 coins since the world’s economy is faltering and we “need” to collect secure valuables to maintain our worth. Seriously? It’s not hard to figure out the hearts and minds of the people behind that scheme. JD Rockafeller was once asked “how much is enough?” his reply: “just a little more.” We can never be satisfied with worldly possessions. Anything in this world that we pursue will never be enough to satisfy our worldly desires (or even our spiritual ones). I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, “Our relationship with Christ is the only high we can chase that is always better than the last fix.”