Jas 5:1-4 “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.”
The scripture often uses the word “rich” to describe those who mistakenly trust in their own strength. Given what lies in store for the “rich men” in these scriptures, I would say they fall into this group. In the previous chapter, James begins to tell us about the pitfalls of failing to acknowledge the Lord’s will. He continues here with those thoughts.
When we think we are self-sufficient for the path before us, there is misery awaiting us. This is not a “maybe, maybe not” situation. Miseries shall come upon you. The miseries are such that James tells us we should be sobbing and crying out loud. Our riches are corrupted. The things of the flesh that we trust in are putrefied: they are rotted, gross to look upon, and have a bad odor. Our garments that we would cover ourselves with are moth eaten. Our nakedness can be seen through them and they are ready to fall apart. This is what Paul meant when he said he counted everything he had lost in serving Christ as dung.
Our fleshly riches that we trust in are corroded. Their failure to help us is a witness against us that we are not trusting in God. They will destroy our flesh, and that too shall be misery. We have stored up these treasures for our last days. That which is properly owed to those who have gathered for the rich man in the fields is fraudulently withheld.
Notice in this phrase it is not the laborer that cries but the hire of the laborer. When we are rich in our own conceits, we will not give praise and honor to God. We will not call him blessed that comes in the name of the Lord. Our very failure to render to the Lord cries out. The last part of this statement then refers to the cries of the laborer. I am reminded of the prophet Elijah when he cried unto the Lord that “they have killed the prophets, and digged down thine altars.”
This lesson appears to be full of darkness and destruction. However, I believe it is also full of hope and promise. I’m reminded again of the time that Jesus told His disciples about how difficult it was for a rich man to enter into the kingdom, and they inquired who can be saved. Jesus told them that it is impossible with man, but all things are possible with God.
It is impossible for man to give up the love of the flesh by his own strength. We have a God who is rich in mercy and shows us the emptiness of our supposed riches. He causes us to despise the things that we once loved more than we love Him. He humbles us and in our last days (of trusting in man) brings us to the place where we can say with joy, “if God will.”
May we be blessed to enter every moment of our life with our fleshly riches behind us and the desire before us to see God’s will done in our lives!