- The Wisdom of James
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Devotion provided by Matt Chandler
James went to great lengths to warn the church about the corrupting power of wealth. His words often echo the teachings of Jesus, specifically the Sermon on the Mount.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:19-21
Jesus’ teaching sounds a lot like the harsh condemnation of wealthy oppressors in James 5:1-6. In this portion of the Sermon on the Mount, however, Jesus did more than warn against the fleeting, fragile nature of earthly comforts. He provided insight into the nature of treasure and the motivation behind work.
God’s Word is clear about our attitude toward wealth and worldly ambition. Yet it clearly teaches that wealth itself isn’t inherently evil. Serving wealth as our master is the problem. Storing up treasures means we’re investing in that which will last into eternity: God’s mission in the world. Much of what we pursue that leads to our glory and comfort here on earth won’t serve us in eternity. Instead of using our material resources to build wealth here, we must build what will outlast this world and continue into the next.
Work is meant to glorify God. When we begin to see our work as a means to glorify God instead of a way to gain more for ourselves, our relationship with wealth and material possessions changes. From the Scriptures we can draw clear principles and specific applications for our own work situations.
The Bible orders things in a way that those that are in abundance are going to love and serve, not take advantage of, those who are vulnerable. One of the marks of the people of God is that we are those that care for and come along side of the vulnerable, weak, and poor. We are meant to leverage our resources to Love God and Love our Neighbor.