James 5:1-8 NIV
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 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. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you. Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
Having wealth is not a sin, though wealth has its deceitfulness. The above Scriptural passage tells us clearly that selfish stewardship and dishonest acquisition of wealth is sin.
- Hoarding of wealth. James 5:2-3.
In the first century AD, the wealthy would store their wealth in oil, grain, silver and gold. Oil and grain could rot away, and expensive clothes stored away could get moth eaten. Storing away wealth was not helping anyone including the hoarder for the wealth might end up useless.
- Exploitation of the wages of workers for more gain. James 5:4.
In the first century AD, the poor got no redress for such exploitation though they might protest. But God would avenge them. Basically Scripture condemns gaining wealth through all dishonest means and not just paying inadequate wages. Today, we have Christian landlords that exploit to increase rental in a tight property market for more gain with no consideration for the poor irking out a living by renting from them. Or we have believers that deliberately short change their customers for more gain in a tight market.
- Absurd luxurious living. James 5:5
Scripture actually condemns the unrestrained indulgence on self over helping the poor and especially the least of the brothers. In today’s society, we see very wealthy believers who do not hesitate to squander wealth on luxurious limousines, expensive jewelry, exclusive branded clothes, epicurean foods and palatial homes, and yet they are indifferent to the plight of the poor in their midst.