New Living Translation (NLT)
5 Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. 2 Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. 3 Your gold and silver have become worthless. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This treasure you have accumulated will stand as evidence against you on the day of judgment. 4 For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The wages you held back cry out against you. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
5 You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and killed innocent people,who do not resist you.
Happy November, friends! I apologize for not blogging in a little over a week. I hope you are doing well and leaning on Jesus more and more. Today’s passage is from the first part of James 5. And I will not lie: I had a hard time with these six verses. I found it hard to relate to James’ warning here because I am not monetarily wealthy nor do I oversee any employees. I’m a high school teacher who is just very thankful to have a job in these economic times. I’m trusting God to keep our oil flowing. And even though I found a hard time relating to being a “rich oppressor”, I can understand the principles that the Holy Spirit is leading us to do.
When discussing money, I am the world’s worst. I have good intentions of tithing, saving, and living below my means. Yet I have found when a snowball begins, it is hard to stop it until it crumbs or melts. My husband and I are at a point in our young lives that we are trying to prevent the snowball from getting any bigger than it needs to be. I’m sure many can relate: young married couple with two kids, with a mortgage, car payments, etc. We are living the American dream. lol I am very thankful for what I have learned about being a wise steward with God’s money. I’m not always the best following Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University guidelines. I’m even thinking about some unnecessary expenditures that I need to cancel out as I write. See, I’m not an oppressor of others. No, I have allowed my debt to oppress me. But today’s lesson isn’t about being the oppressed. Nope. See, I am trusting God that as He continues to guide Bobby and I to wise, godly decisions concerning our money that we will be debt free in four years, sans school loans and mortgage. And while we are not overseeing anyone at the moment, that doesn’t mean later in life that we won’t become leaders or managers, etc and we’ll need to know to be godly bosses. Hey, stranger things have happened. 🙂
So based on this scripture, the type of leader we do not need to be is pretty clear. James says that what the wealthy have done has angered God:
1. They have hoarded their money.
2. They failed to pay their employees fairly.
3. They self-indulged instead of fulfilling their responsibilities.
4. They have killed people who could not pay off their debts.
Now, if you are a person that has the finances and employees, I pray that you are a godly employer that gives generously as God has given to you. But instead of focusing on the literal explanation of rich oppressors, I want to move into the spiritual realm of this. Because though we might have the riches, we do become oppressors to others in some sort of fashion. Bobby and I teach a college and career small group at our church. While we are not employers, we are leaders to this fascinating group of kids. Think if we became hoarders of our time or talents that God has given us in order to minister to them and others. Would we see lives changed and become closer to Jesus if we didn’t reflect His generosity? No, I don’t believe we would. We would be available on Sunday mornings alone and don’t worry about bothering us during the week because we are busy with work, school, kids’ soccer practice, homework, etc. What kind of leader would that be? What if your pastor was like that? What if your best friend became like that? What if Jesus became like that?
I believe in my heart of hearts that we are entering the last days. People are loosing hope and joy due to their situations and circumstances. Can anyone blame them? I had a student who had to drop out of school as a sophomore so he could work full time in construction to help his mom. Dad had lost his job and ran off on the family. They lost their house and were staying in a motel. Him and his older brother were working full-time because mom had young children and couldn’t afford to put them in day care so she could work. It was a devastating situation. Of course a person in this position is going to be battling with having hope and joy. What if Jesus held back His provisions, mercy, and grace to this family? And what if a person who could help them out came along and withheld their abilities because it was inconvenient?
We have been called to be ministers, lights to this dark world and it is inconvenient. When was following Christ a nine to five job? Jesus is always available to us; shouldn’t we be available the majority of the time? And what about our talents and giftings God has given us? Are you able to sing? Are you able to write? Are you naturally encouraging person or does it take work to step up to someone and say something nice? I can’t tell you how many times in the years of ministry I have been in that I received a phone call in the middle of the night because one of my kids needed someone. Or how many times there is a college kid on our couch just needing a safe place to turn to. I can’t hoard my time or my comfort zone because of my selfishness. No, I must share what God has given us.
And though we might not be in a position to give money to charities or all the different ministries we believe in, Bobby and I love to give our time and talents to help these organizations. For example, our band, The Fifth Sparrow, does charity concerts at least four times a year for different local charities. With the Thanksgiving season approaching, we are partnering with local coffee shop, Cafe Moka, to do a food drive. If you’re in the Virginia Beach area, please join us on Saturday, November 17th from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. as we collect non-perishables for Elijah’s Pantry. Elijah’s Pantry is our church’s food bank that is constantly running out of donations due to the need in this area. Last year we did a food drive for Elijah’s Pantry and a toy drive for Toys For Tots for Christmas. We were overwhelmed with the generosity of our community to donate to these charities. We would like to think that our community would have stepped up to the plate without our events, but we believe that because God has given us these talents that not only are we able to encourage the listeners, but we give opportunities for people to bless others.
So I am going to leave you with this tonight: have you been hoarding your talents? your gifts? Why? What is your excuse? And would that excuse be acceptable if it came from Jesus’s mouth? God has a very special calling and gifting for you. It’s time to start walking in it.
I thank you that you can take something I am not completely familiar with or able to relate to and you show me something new. Jesus, I pray over us that we have the boldness to step out in these talents and gifting that you have given us. Holy Spirit, show us what these gifts and talents are that you have bestowed upon us, not for our own glory but for your’s only. And Father, I pray that you be blessed as we honor You with our gifts and talents and time as you bless us.
In Jesus’ Holy Name,
God bless y’all!