“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are 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. Indeed, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you” (James 5:1-6).
Like several Old Testament prophets, the New Testament prophet James addresses a small portion of his writing to those who are not God’s people. His words of condemnation serve an important two-fold purpose: 1) They warn the guilty of their wickedness in hope that they will repent; and 2) They comfort the innocent who are being mistreated by the wicked.
James’ warning begins with a command: “Weep and howl”. Earthly treasures offer fleeting security and safety. They are incapable of making good on their promise of permanent refuge. Riches corrupt and erode. Expensive garments decay and wear out. But the sins of fraud, injustice, and greed have a guaranteed, eternal dividend which is paid out by the Lord of hosts.
Extravagance, luxury, and pleasure gained by mistreating others is a foolish lifestyle decision. They stand as irrefutable proof of your guilt.
Be sure your sins will find you out.