Moth eaten treasure

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. (Jas 5:1-3)

If there is anything more distressing to a person of means, it is losing the very thing that you were relying on to get your through your golden years. What do you rely on?

I have known people at my previous employer who had put all their 401k contributions into company stock. When the stock market dropped and their 401k turned into a 203b, they were devastated. Some had this happen just 2 years before they were ready to retire and it pushed off retirement. Jesus warned us in the parable of the sower about the deceitfulness of riches and they do promise a security that is not real.

Here James is pointing out to the rich that they are going to have problems. As some have suggested, this may apply to the Jewish Christians who would suffer as Jerusalem was destroyed in 70AD. The Jewish economy going downhill would have an effect on them. Even as the American economy going downhill would have (or has had) an effect of us.

I also wonder if James is referring to the quantity of riches that they have. So much gold that it corrodes, so much clothing that you can’t wear it and the moths eat it. Who needs 3000 pairs of shoes? The corrosion of their gold and silver, the fact that they have so much it will corrode is evidence against those who are rich. It is evidence of their lack of Love as he will show in the next few verses and in particular he says that the quantity is theirs by fraud; fraud against their workers.

How much money is too much? The world will never know! However, a Christian should. For each one it will be different, but the one thing you don’t want to do is to cross over into covetousness as these Christians were doing. Money is here for a purpose. God provides it and always has for our use and to His Glory.

When you spend money to buy food, clothing and shelter. When you spend money to educate your family and meet your obligations to raise them and protect them, God gets glory. It doesn’t all come from giving to others. Of course, when you give to others, it also is for God’s glory. A 5 million dollar bank account at your death will only pass to your heirs. Who knows if they will be wise or foolish.

Riches are not the problem. It is great to have an inheritance to leave your family. However, the money left pales by far to the value of the training that a parent leaves their children. (Consider carefully how much you should heap up or leave them.)  The problem is when we love riches so much that we are willing to not do the right thing (see yesterday’s blog) which then becomes sin. We hoard, we defraud, we lie, we plan without God, all in the name of making the next shekel.

One last thought: When James says “you have laid up treasure for the last days”, it does not sound like it is the treasure that they are supposed to have laid up. It sounds like it might be the treasure of wrath rather than joy as they meet the Lord who left all He had to die for us.

The subject of riches and how to use them is an important one. Passages all over the Bible talk about it. James does not condemn the rich for being rich, he condemns them for the way they have gained and use their riches. In my country, more are rich than are willing to consider themselves to be rich. If we have food and clothing (and two TVs, a cell phone, a DVD player, Cable, hi speed internet, the latest fashions, and a cool car) with these we will be content. Please notice the sarcasm.


About Steven Sarff

If I were to offer any one piece of advice to one wishing to serve God, it would be to put Hebrews 11:6 and Acts 17:11 into action and let God guide you to grow in the grace and knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ.

Posted on January 11, 2012, in Christianity, Faith, poor, Rich and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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