Verse 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.
God had given the Jewish people laws regarding the payment to be given workers. One of the laws was that they were to be paid before sunset the day they had worked (Deuteronomy 24:15). Something to remember is that these were not workers in the sense that we think of employees. More often than not someone needing help on their farm would go to the portion of the marketplace where the poor hung out and asked if any of them were willing to work.
Without the modern conveniences of refrigeration, the marketplace wasn’t some place that was visited once a week to collect the food for the coming week. It was more common to buy what was needed for the day’s meals at a certain time of day. This is why God set up the system of making sure the workers gained their day’s wages the day they worked for them. To deprive them of their earned wages was a way of causing them harm as they may have to go hungry without their pay.
What does this command have to do with James’ readers? After reminding them that they were not to hoard their wealth, James takes the needed next step to point out ways that they were doing just that. These workers had worked hard and deserved their wages but these greedy rich people were not showing the love of fellow man that they were supposed to be showing. They were thinking of only themselves and what pleased them.
This may not seem like something we need to be concerned about. There aren’t many of us that would think of ourselves as wealthy, even though compared to other places in the world we are abundantly wealthy. But if we were honest with ourselves, we all probably know someone that is of lower income than we are and while we aren’t hiring them for a job, we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, do have a responsibility to them.
As it says in verse 5, we have lived in luxury and self-indulgence. In America we live in a place where you can find 30 options of gum in the checkout lane and many more options of chocolate sweets. We are not the poor and we may not even be the wealthy either. It doesn’t matter where we sit on the spectrum of finances there are those that we can love by giving them what they need. This help may not be by just handing them some cash, sometimes it is by giving to the local food bank. No matter how we are doing it, if we are doing it in the name of Jesus, it will bring us joy and will be lifting up His name.
Making It Personal
How aware are you of other’s needs? Do you look for people to help or ignore other’s pain? Who can you help today?
Making It Personal Kids
What is a way that someone has helped you? What is something that you do that helps others? What can you do today that will help someone?
Father, You have called us to be Your hands and feet on the earth. Help us see the needs of those in front of us so that we can obey You and help them. In Jesus’ name, amen.