James Five: Who, Me?

Posted: November 3, 2012 in James

As we make our way into the final chapter of James, we find a scathing warning- really a tongue lashing- for rich people. Not for having wealth, mind you. But because of what they did (or didn’t do) with it. And understandably so. Think about it this way…God, as the creator and owner of the earth and everything in it, chooses just how wealthy any of us are. Some of us He deems to be dirt poor, others of us filthy rich (interesting that we relate both extremes to dirtiness). God does this to glorify Himself in various ways. On the poorer side of things God is glorified in taking care of His people in the most trying of times, very often through the re-funneling of wealth from those who have it, also glorifying Himself through them. The bottom line is this- however it works out, if we devote our material wealth to God, be it a large amount or small, He will be glorified and we will be provided for.

Thus, James is warning the rich who cling to their possessions at the expense of others who need it or have earned it from us. He’s warning those who have “lived on the earth in luxury and self-indulgence.”

We’d like to think that in our own culture, James is talking about that wealthiest 1% of Americans who gain more than 288 times the average median American salary each year. It’s easy to target people with that absurd an amount of money.

But what if he’s talking about you? Or me?

I know I’m nowhere even remotely near that top one percent of wealthiest Americans, but consider this- the average global salary for all wage-earners is $18,000 a year, or nine dollars an hour. I would surmise that most of you reading this make more than that. I do.

Did you know that as of 2008, roughly 1.3 billion people on this planet survive (if you call it that) on $1.25 a day, or about $450 a year? The computer you’re reading this on probably cost more than that.

UNICEF says that some six million children under five die in developing countries each year from malnutrition and hunger-related diseases. How’s your fridge looking?

The reality is that on a global scale, anyone with the ability to read this blog is considered wealthy. None of us are poor. None of us are hungry. To over a billion people, we are the rich. For some of us, billions would consider us as such.

So what are we doing with it?


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