Take a moment and read James 5:1-11.
Money is always a hard topic because most of us are very private, proud, and protective of how we manage our resources. I know it's uncomfortable for me at times. But just because something is hard to talk about doesn't mean we avoid it. I am firmly convinced that if James brought it up, then it's very important to address!
Although the passage talks about wealthy people and many of us would probably not associate ourselves with such a description, this is, in fact, applicable to the majority of those in the western world. Particularly here in America, we are certainly classified to be some of the wealthiest on the planet. Indeed, we all have resources and, therefore, can relate. In fact, the "rich" as James describes are those that have more than they need to live. Hmm, sounds pretty applicable to us, huh?!
James is talking to some people in the church who were wealthy but using their resources for selfish gain. They were spending their money on fine food, clothes, and worldly possessions, at the expense of withholding wages from their employees. Instead of using their influence and blessing to help others, they were only serving their desires.
There is nothing wrong with being wealthy; it's a misuse of the wealth that's an issue. We truly are blessed to be a blessing and, as a result, should be people of giving. Maybe offer to pay the auto repair bill for a young college student. Someone did this for me once and it was such an answer to prayer, as well as encouraging to my faith! Maybe it's giving a portion of your income to missions and spreading the Gospel all around the world. I don't know what God may be prompting in your heart but whatever it is, be faithful to it.
James continues in verses 2-3 by stating the obvious--those things of this earth will only fade, rot, and break. There is no eternal value in investing in fine foods, clothing, and worldly possessions. Your exotic cheeses will go bad. Your clothes will all either shrink, tear, or wear. The fancy car will break down at some point. Those $500 shoes or purse will give out. Literally nothing lasts forever, which is why storing up our treasures in Heaven is the best use of our resources.
Furthermore, and this should concern you as it did me upon reading, is that at the end of verse 3 it says "will eat your flesh like fire." Not only do the things of this world fade, but along with it our character. It eats at us until it consumes everything.
So what does this have to do with patience? In verse 3 the rich are admonished for laying up their treasures on Earth in the last days, meaning, people were not being patient for Christ's return but living as if they had forever. There was no patience associated with their lifestyle and it contributed to a "live life to the fullest" mentality.
John MacArthur observes,
When we toil for gain, then use that gain to make a comfortable lifestyle for only ourselves, it leads us down a dangerous path. A path that leads to further toil, disobedience, and purpose. All to say, this is a lesson from James not to be missed. We MUST be people who use our resources for eternal value. It's okay to have a comfortable home, nice things, and a cabinet full of groceries. God blesses us; there are many people in the Bible God blessed abundantly!
Here's the bottom line and the core of this blog: be wise, open, and giving of your resources. It's not optional; it's necessary.
James 5 continues the test of patient endurance through to verse 11, and yet we've only broken down verses 1-6. There are 5 verses still on patience till the Second Coming of Christ. In fact, within these few sentences, we read the phrase "until the coming of the Lord" 3 times! That's key for us!
We are being asked to practice patience and endurance until Christ returns. How do we do that? James gives three examples of patience.
- The farmer who waits for the crops.
- The prophets, who suffered yet remained steadfast.
- Job, who endured even though all seemed against him.
Regardless of how much you have in the bank, your current circumstances, and what you feel, pursue a life that is holy and pleasing to God. Spend your resources wisely. Be patient for the fruit to produce in your life. Remain steadfast in your suffering. Endure even though the world seems against you. This is your call. This is your mandate.
One day Christ will return and it will be worth it all to hear him say,
- Take some time for authentic self-examination. While doing this, reflect on your own stewardship and ask God if you could improve in this area.
- How might you be a better steward? Do you tithe? Could you help someone in need?