Warning for Us All

Jane Olson

READ : James 5:1-6

Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you. (v. 3)

It's tempting to write off these verses from James 5 as a message for the one percent. Those of us who consider ourselves middle class can feel safe here: I'm not rich, so I'm okay. But what if we measured our wealth not by the fortunes of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, but against the residents of a Calcutta slum or the homeless of our own city streets? Can we be so certain that these verses aren't aimed at us?

James offers a stern warning to those who spend their wealth ensuring personal comfort rather than pursuing justice and righteousness. The riches that we store up merely for ourselves will testify against us, in two ways.

First, our wealth will reveal what we truly believe is the source of our security. “You have laid up treasure in the last days,” James says. In other words, if we horde what God has given us instead of using it to spread his kingdom, then whatever we have laid up for ourselves will be damning evidence in the final judgment.

Second, the ways in which we earn wealth reveal our true values. Does your 401(k) invest in companies that rape the environment or oppress the poor? God is not deaf to the cries of the sweatshop worker or the migrant laborer. The dividends we reap from exploiting others will be held against us.

What does your money testify about you?


Lord, show me how to use the resources you've given me to further your kingdom.