Devotional: ‘Those Whose Gain Becomes Their God’

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James 5:1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. 4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.

The Bible has much to say about money; perhaps much more than many of us would like to hear. Whereas the Bible does not condemn wealth in and of itself, the Bible does condemn the worship of wealth. Today we see that James had some very strong words for those who were gaining their wealth through dishonesty. In verse 4 we see that they often cheated their laborers out of their wages. In verse 6 we see that they were dishonest in many of their business deals. Apparently whenever these wealthy individuals saw an opportunity to be dishonest – they did so to their own advantage.

What would be the end for these evil merchants? In verse 6 James says – “You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.” Though these rich men thought that they were preparing themselves for a day of pleasure, in reality they were preparing themselves for a day of judgment. Much like a farmer that might fatten an animal for a feast, these dishonest merchants were fattening themselves for what James called ‘a day of slaughter.’ In verse 4 James tells us that the cries of those whom they were cheating had reached the ears of God in heaven. God was observing how they took advantage of others and He was preparing a time when He would punish them for their dishonesty. On that day, their expensive clothing would not shield them from God’s all-seeing eye, nor would their riches help them purchase a legal loop-hole. The Bible says that one day men will be judged ‘according to their works.’ [1]

Though many of us may not be rich, we all must pay attention to how we manage our finances. Do we ever try to take advantage of others? Do we live in luxury and self-indulgence while others around us are in need? Does our gain ever become our god?

James’ sobering words give us much to think about.

[1] Revelation 20:11-15

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