Riches

James 5:1-6  Go to now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. You have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, cries: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; you have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.  You have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. 

These verses contain the first and last prophecy in James regarding six predictions concerning evil rich men that awaits them because they have condemned and killed the just.

Miseries will come upon them, their riches will become corrupted and their garments moth-eaten, their gold and silver to canker that eat their flesh and the rust or poison of their riches will witness or testify of their many sins. These riches that are corrupted instead of cankered as gold and silver, refers to crops, flocks, stores of grain, wine, oil, and many changes of clothing in the wardrobes.

Lord of Sabaoth is a term often used in the Old Testament of God who is Lord of hosts, or Lord of armies, who has infinite power to rule the nations and punish the wicked (1Sam. 1:3, 11; 4:4; 15:2).

Living in pleasure on earth – the Greek word truphao which means to live softly or delicately; fare sumptuously; live in luxury; to be effeminate; to be licentious; to revel – and been wanton is the Greek word spatalao that refers to living riotously and in pleasure (1Tim. 5:6; 1 Pet. 4:3); and nourishing of the hearts as in the day of slaughter refers to feasting and surfeiting as men do at the times of their religious feasts.

The Sin of Partiality

James 2:1, 8-9 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. If you fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, you do well: But if you have respect to persons, you commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 

Do not have the faith of Christ with partiality. Do not prefer the rich merely because of riches, and not for their moral, spiritual, and public usefulness (Jas. 2:1-4) or anyone for that matter because of what they look like or what they own or their station in life.

The law of both the old and new covenants demanded that men love their neighbours as themselves (Lev. 19:18; Mat. 22:39; Rom.13:8-9; Gal. 5:14). The new covenant – the perfect law of liberty – is referred to here, which came from God and was emphasized by Christ as being suitable and necessary to all men (John 13:34; 15:12).

If you show any degree of partiality and injustice you break God’s law and you are a transgressor (1Jn. 3:4).