The title of this post looks a bit odd: the reason? we usually hear it the other way around. One attribute of James I have not discussed thus far is his passion. We are going to see his passion front and center in this post.
In the first part of this chapter James has some very harsh words for the rich of this world who take advantage of the poor. Look out, the fur is about to fly.
In the first 6 verses of chapter 5 James gives a strong rebuke against the rich who gather their fortune on the backs of others and use their position to serve their own interests. If you just read the first verse you might think James is against all rich people. That is not true; when you read the first six verses together you will discover the real reason for the rebuke.
J.C. Penney, James Cash Penney, born 9/16/1875 lived to the ripe old age of 95 dying in 1971. His first store opened in 1902 under the name “Golden Rule”. The name was changed to JC Penney in 1913. At this time there were 23 stores. JC Penney established a profit sharing program to allow his employees to also reap the rewards of good business. JC Penney always honored God in the way he run the company. This man was rich in this worlds goods but he never forgot who the real giver of wealth is, Almighty God.
Riches to Rags
The people referred to in these verses are not like JC Penney: in verse 4 they had cheated their workers in order to get more gain, they had kept back all their money making them greedy and their life was one of pursuing pleasure at the expense of others.
From a spiritual sense these people were poor. James refers to their miseries, corruption, moth eaten, cankered, wantonness and rust. The world saw them as rich but God saw their true estate, they were detestable, vile and miserable.
In verse 6 James refers to the death of Jesus Christ by their hands. It was the rich in worldly goods that took part in condemning Jesus for things he did not do. James said that they killed the just one who did not resist. What will be the price for those who cheat their way to wealth? In verse 4 it say the cries of those who were cheated will enter the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth – Lord and Protector of Israel in Battle. Sounds serious to me.
On a topic such as this I can quickly get an “Amen” and “tell them spoiled rich people how sorry they are”.
I did a little internet search averaging 4 sites statistics to come up with 951 million people in this world do not have enough to eat. I would definitely define them as poor.
Now, I need you to join me and give consideration to a question: What is the definition of rich? Try this one…having more than we need. (1 Tim 6:8) Whether we make modest wages or are worth billions, if we take advantage of our fellow man to gain the world’s goods we are the target of James’ rebuke.