Read: James 5:1-6

You might be tempted to read today’s text and assume it does not apply to you. After all, you think, you certainly aren't rich and you are kind to most of the people with whom you have contact. 

How about reading the text again with the primary purpose to just “listen in?”  As you do, consider what’s going on in our world. As I write this post, a wealthy owner of a professional basketball team is accused of making horrible racial comments. His remarks are a reminder that racial injustice (after years of progress) still lurks in the background of our culture. At the same time, there are fears that civil war will break out in Eastern Europe. Towns and villages are being burned. Office buildings are being destroyed. And there are reports of people being killed in the streets. Add to all of this the reports of thousands of women and children every year who are sold as slaves and eventually discarded as having little or no value.

All of these “headlines” make one ask:

“God are you there?  Do you care about all the injustices that exist in our world?”

It may be hard for us to get our thoughts around the truth, but the Bible teaches consistently that God cares, and He will act! How do we know this is the case? Two things stand out in James 5:1-6.

  • First, James is not saying that “riches” are a bad thing, or that all “rich people” are evil. The term “rich” in verse 1 refers to unbelieving, unjust people who live only for themselves. They have renounced faith in God, and use their money and possessions to accumulate more and more material things.  Little do they know that the very material things they are gathering now will ultimately be destroyed (vv. 1-3).   
  • Second, James says that God sees all of this and has collected evidence that validates the condemnation of those who live unjustly (vv. 4-6). They may have wealth today, but God has planned a “great reversal” to occur, what James calls “the day of slaughter” (v.5).  

Many commentators suggest that James is speaking like an Old Testament prophet, announcing the judgment of God on the unrighteous. Yes, that is true, but I am of the persuasion that he is speaking to Christians as well, asking them to “listen in” if you will, so that we might find hope in a corrupt world.  The author wants us to know this:


Someone will say, “Well, why doesn't King Jesus bring about justice…NOW?” I want to concur with those sentiments. However, I am reminded that:

Our Savior is working through His Church to take the gospel to the ends of the earth!

What seems like “slow justice” to us is actually the Lord’s patience, giving the unrighteous opportunities to turn in repentance to the salvation that is in Christ (2 Peter 3:9). But that patience will not last forever. Injustices will be eliminated in the Lord’s perfect timing (James 5:5).

So what should our course of action be? I will talk about this more in my next post, but suffice it to say that we are not left on planet earth to be passive observers.

We have a message of hope and salvation to share with any who will listen. (Matthew 28:18-20)

In addition, we have possessions we can share with others. We may not have a lot in terms of earthly wealth. Certainly we have responsibilities to care for our families and pay our bills as good stewards. At the same time, we are to consider how we can invest in the Kingdom work of Jesus, so that His fame might increase in “last days” (James 5:3; Matthew 6:19-20).

Whether we like it or not, injustices will be with us until our Lord returns. Until that day, we are to take confidence in the fact that God knows. He cares. And in His perfect timing justice will be established.

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