Church Hoarders: Then and Now

 Those of you who have greedily hoarded a lot of money, listen carefully.  You should be distraught because of the misery that is coming on you. Your money is dirty, and it is rotting even now.  Moths have eaten your fine clothes.  Your gold and silver are corroding. Their corrosion will be a physical representation of what’s happening to you spiritually;  your stingy greed will consume you.
   You have hoarding your wealth thinking money will keep you safe when the day of judgment comes.  Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of these cheated harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.  You have lived on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves like a stall-fed beast; you live to eat and drink, not knowing you are readying yourself for your day of slaughter.
    You have condemned and murdered just, innocent people, who do not have the power or resources to oppose your corruption.  

- Book of James, Chapter 5

     The Bible is not agains money. It does take a stance, however, against the corrupt accumulation or use of wealth.  James  himself is not agains those who are blessed by material gain; in fact, he goes out of his way to clarify the kind of rich he is talking about.  He is calling those who are:

  • Dying spiritually because they worship money, not God
  • Greedy rather than generous
  • Completely self-centered and indulgent
  • Exploitive and hurtful others

     There is an attitude and mindset that is right and Godly:  If you have money and are generous, other-centered, self-sacrificial, caring of others, and focused on Christ, James is not talking to you.  Relax.

But if this is you, it’s a problem.

     One of my concerns is that we hear this and think, “Well, I’m not rich.  But I really hope the rich are listening.”  If we read this honestly, there have been points in our lives where we are guilty of some things on this list too.  You don’t have to be rich to struggle with these things. You can be on government assistance, making minimum wage, or living paycheck to paycheck and have James’ list apply:

  • Dying spiritually because of idolatry.  $100 can be worshipped as easily as $100,000. Saving money for a rowboat can be as idolatrous as saving money for a speedboat.
  • Greedy rather than generous.   We get a refund after we file taxes – what are we inclined to do with that?   The poorest of us can be greedy.  You don’t need a lot of money to do that.
  • Completely self-centered and indulgent  What can I do with MY money?  I have $10. Do I take a lonely friend out for lunch, or buy songs 10 songs on Itunes?  I’m not saying don't steward your money wisely, but where’s your first love? 
  • Exploit and hurt others.  Anybody can pay somebody else less than what they deserve for their work.  Anybody can sue someone else because that’s an easy way to make money.  Anybody can not correct incorrect change, or sneak into a movie, or steal music and software online. You don’t have to be rich to do that.  But every one of those situations hurts or exploits someone else.

     James is holding up a mirror and asking everyone, “Do you see yourself clearly here?  Will  you walk away unchanged or will you more fully enter into life with Christ?”