Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you. Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! – James 5:1-9
Rich people weeping and wailing, not something you see every day. Popular culture and marketing mavins would suggest just the opposite. Money and wealth makes one happy not sad right? This passage suggests wealth brings misery, rot, and moth eaten clothes.
It sounds like the amount of money is not the issue but what one does with it and priority it takes in one’s life – the impact money can have on our heart and soul. The passage then creates a connection between sad wealthy people and a specific group of sad wealthy people who “condemned and murdered the innocent one”. It is not stated explicitly but this is a reference to the crucifixion of the Messiah and those in power who colluded with the Romans to make it happen.
Finally we arrive at the water reference “See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.” This is clearly a reference to Jesus’ return which was a point of much confusion for those reading this letter. The reference to “autumn and spring rains” is very similar to language in a passage in Joel 2:20-24. This same language shows up in Jeremiah 5:20-25.
It seems there is an important element of “seasonality” to the rains God sends into our lives. My sense is this is a feature not a flaw. God wants us to fix our eyes on Him whether we are rich or poor. If we are busy tending our money and wealth we are probably not keeping our eyes on God.
Prayer: God help us to prioritize You in our lives above all else.