And a final word to you arrogant rich: Take some lessons in lament. You'll need buckets for the tears when the crash comes upon you. Your money is corrupt and your fine clothes stink. Your greedy luxuries are a cancer in your gut, destroying your life from within. You thought you were piling up wealth. What you've piled up is judgment. All the workers you've exploited and cheated cry out for judgment. The groans of the workers you used and abused are a roar in the ears of the Master Avenger. You've looted the earth and lived it up. But all you'll have to show for it is a fatter than usual corpse. In fact, what you've done is condemn and murder perfectly good persons, who stand there and take it.
James 5:1-6 (The Message)
I am not sure if James was speaking to "rich" inside the body of believers or if he was addressing others that were "rich" and mistreating those within the church family. In either case, what was happening was bad stuff. Money was being stock piled thru less than honorable means, fair wages were not being paid in a timely manner, and earthly wealth at all costs was being perused regardless of the eternal ramifications. Not good at all. If these "arrogant rich" were within the body of believers then they were not doing a very good job of embracing the character of Christ.
One of the most misquoted scriptures of the Bible is "money is the root of evil" 1Timothy 6:10 actually says that the "love of money is the root of all kinds of evil." Money isn't a bad thing. It's important in many ways; it puts food on the table, clothes on the kiddies and a roof over our heads to provide shade from the hot sun. Also, it often takes real money to provide real ministry in the lives of real and hurting people. But what happens when money becomes too important? What happens when the amount in the savings account is what provides the feeling of safety and security that I long for? Or when the cutest new clothes or gadgets are what makes me smile. How does it make God feel when vacation and play time, fun toys and fast food use up the money that I had in obedience pledged to Him as a part of my "first fruit" tithe? I wonder how God feels about retirement plans. In an effort to be a good steward and plan for things to come, can I lose sight of the idea and belief that God will in fact "give us this day our daily bread"? Can I miss using my resources now for some possible future benefit? It's only money. It will not last. We cannot take it with us. We will make more and we will spend more. I need to be faithful and responsible with all of God's blessings.
I don't use unfair scales. I don't cheat workers out of fair pay for hard work. Does that mean that none of this applies to me? Well, what about when my greed, selfishness and lust for more, means someone else (like my husband or kids) will have less. Or how about when I justify spending money on some of those expensive "conveniences" of life because I am lazy, or tired, or hot, or in a rush? How many things do I classify as a "need" that really are not "needs" at all? Is living a life in constant debt being a good steward?
My take away here is this - God wants to be reflected in every part of my life. When God is not my focus, when He is not my filter - everything else gets tainted, twisted and messed up. I cannot change the poor financial choices of my past. But I can do things different from this day forward. I can honor God in how I pay back my debt, in how I live within the blessings that He has provided, in how I obey Him with my first fruit tithe.