The Ills of Wealth
Verse 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?
Yesterday we talked about the dependent faith of the poor believer. Today James reminds the believers a fact about the rich that it is easy to forget and may be misconstrued.
There are two ways we need to look at this. First let us look at the clear issue that is being addressed – our view of the rich. It is so easy to look at the rich and envy them. This is not a new thing in the world, it has been the way of the world since the very first centuries. The wealthy are looked up to for various reasons. They are people we look up to as we admire their life situation and dream of what it would be like to have. Yes, we tend to covet their situation and what it could bring us in this life.
This enviousness is not new. We can see it throughout history but that doesn’t make it OK. It is so easy to look at the money instead of the responsibility and grief that it can bring. James knew this and so found it necessary to remind his readers that it was these rich people that they were admiring who had been oppressing them all this time. It was the rich tax collectors that had been fattening their own pockets with the monies of these believers. Had they forgotten so quickly?
We forget the bondage that money puts on us too. We forget that though money can be helpful it can also be used as a tool for evil. It shouldn’t be used to rule over others. This is not to say that all who gain wealth are evil. God has blessed many in this way for His own purposes but Jesus said that it isn’t easy for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God. As we learned yesterday, they struggle with depending on God since they often have the resources to take care of their needs.
Now let’s look at the flip side of the issue. What happens when we are the one that has enough money to take care of our needs and have some to spare? If this is our financial position then we need to not look at the poor with disdain. We have a responsibility to our poor brothers and sisters in the Church. Not to enable them to be lazy but to help them with their needs. God builds His kingdom using all types of people, not for our own glory but for His and that works when we are living as a united family, supporting each other when possible. This kind of living will reveal God to those around us.
Making It Personal
Have you ever been helped when you had a time of need? Have you ever helped someone in need? How did you feel being the receiver? How did you feel being the giver?
Making It Personal Kids
Have you ever helped someone in need? Has anyone ever helped you? What can you do today to help someone so that they know the love of Jesus?
Father, please help us be wise with the finances that You entrust to us. Give us eyes to see when our brothers and sisters in the Church need our help. In Jesus’ name, amen.