THE SERVANT GENERAL
NO ONE IN NEED
WARNING TO THE RICH
Today’s reading: James 5:1-6
God created a bountiful world, and there is more than enough
for everybody, even as world population has grown tremendously.
There is more than enough land, food, fuel and other resources
for even double the current population of the world.
then is there massive poverty? It is due to selfishness, inequitable
distribution of the world’s goods, and social injustice.
The rich (both individuals and nations) keep getting richer
while the poor keep getting poorer. The rich not only do not
share with the poor, but even hoard goods and commodities.
Employers give a pittance to their helpless workers. Rich
nations impose onerous conditions on poor nations for economic
assistance that benefit the rich nations themselves. Such
injustices cry out to heaven. “Behold, the wages you
withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying
aloud, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears
of the Lord of hosts.” (v.4).
of the rich and powerful do not care about the misery of the
greater majority of the peoples of the world, so long as their
coffers are full. They live in luxury and profligate spending.
“You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure”
(v.5a). They toss crumbs to the poor, if at all. As such they
have consigned the poor to continuing misery in abject poverty.
“You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous
one; he offers you no resistance.” (v.6). From the times
of the Old Testament to today, the harsh oppression of the
righteous poor continues.
the poor are powerless to resist, they have God on their side.
God loves the poor. He hears their cries. He sees the injustice.
He sees the bad stewardship of those entrusted with the world’s
goods. He will punish such selfishness and injustice. “Come
now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries.
Your wealth has rotted away, your (designer) clothes have
become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded”
(v.1-3a). Those who rejoice now will weep. Those who depend
on wealth and power will lose it all. And it will not only
be about this life, but life hereafter. As “that corrosion
will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh
like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days.”
(v.3b). The rich enter into the last days wallowing in their
treasures, proof of their greed and selfishness plain for
all to see. They will be devoured by an all-consuming fire.
The rich rejoiced in their hearts. Eat, drink and be merry.
But tomorrow you die. “You have fattened your hearts
for the day of slaughter.” (v.5b).
the rich doomed to condemnation? No, not necessarily. But
they need to be good stewards of the world’s goods.
They need to practice social justice. They need to share with
those in need, so that just like the first Christian community
established on Pentecost, even though there were many poor
people, there was no one in need.