“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain”. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” James 5:7-8
Our world is filled with individuals who want to be served. Although, this mentality is pervasive today, it is not new. Jesus was once approached by the mother of James and John and asked if He would grant them positions of prominence in His kingdom (Matthew 20:20-21). Rather than granting her request, Jesus described the importance of serving others: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave-just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many”–(Matthew 20:25-28).
Despite Jesus insistence on serving others, individuals today continue to struggle to secure positions of prominence. If you look at it, in the modern workplace, it is snot uncommon to find employees cutting corners in hopes of receiving a raise or promotion. Rather than helping their coworkers, their only desire is to get ahead. This is the same self-reliant spirit James rebuked when he warned those who consistently made plans without considering the position of God. “Instead,” James advised, “you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that” -James 4:15. Dependence upon God is not optional.
Ultimately, it is a command to rely upon God. This, of course, is what every Christian should seek to do.
Reasons to Weep
Those with wealth have a tendency to believe they are self-sufficient. Rather than encourage those with wealth to rejoice and enjoy their bounty, James did the opposite: “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! James 5:1. Although, individuals who give their lives to accumulating physical treasures do not often think about the negative aspects of their pursuit, consequences indeed exist. The possession of wealth does not remove the burdens of life. Instead, it simply brings other challenges to the forefront. That’s why Jesus warned, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:23).
By instructing the rich to “weep” and “howl” over the challenges that confronted them and James was bidding them to turn to God for help. One of the primary challenges faced by the wealthy is to understand that money has instrumental rather than intrinsic value. To say this differently, money is important only insofar as it can be used to purchase the necessities of life and to facilitate good things. To think otherwise and assume money is valuable for its own sake leads to both covetousness and idolatry.
Those who make the mistake are guilty of what Paul warned Timothy to avoid: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows’ (1 Timothy 6:10). Perhaps the greatest mistake the wealthy can make, however, is to fail to understand the temporary nature of their riches. In James 5:2-3, it states, “Your riches are corrupted, and your garments moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days”.
Individuals who seek security by gathering riches are looking to the wrong source. What a tragedy to spend one’s final moments seeking physical items that will be destroyed! Clearly, we must live for more than this physical world.
It is easy for individuals to focus on their own abilities and resources so much that they forget to consider the God who provides every good thing we enjoy (James 1:17). Rather than trusting in riches, which are fleeting, we must patiently depend upon the eternal God.
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