James 5:1-6 ESV
“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.”
Abuses of Power and Wealth
Wow! This speaks to the USA today, and perhaps to other nations, too. It is not to say that every American is like this. We aren’t all like this, but many are. By comparison to much of the rest of the world, America is a wealthy nation, even though that wealth is based in massive debt, for the most part.
But wealth, in and of itself, is not wrong. It is not evil if it is given over to the Lord to be used according to his will and purposes. It is the love of money which is the root of all evil. It is the hoarding, the cheating of others out of what is owed them, the greed, the abuses, and the stinginess often associated with wealth that are the issue.
And it is the power that often comes with wealth, and the abuses of that power that are at issue here. For there is a group of wealthy and powerful people in this world (the elite) who are oppressing, abusing, and taking advantage of the world populace for evil and nefarious purposes.
But it isn’t just them, and it isn’t just the materially wealthy who are the issue here. It is also pastors of “churches” who have bought into this idea that they are king over their congregations and that everything revolves around them. For many of them are behaving much like cult leaders who expect everyone’s undivided loyalty to them without question.
And then it is the people, including the materially poor and wealthy, who have bought into this idea that their lives are their own to be lived however they want, and that they have the right to do whatever pleases them, even if other people get hurt in the process. And some of them are “Christians.”
So, many people are being abused, taken advantage of, cheated, lied about, falsely accused, slandered, thieved, raped, murdered, had their property confiscated, rights removed, things forced on them against their will, had their lives and their livelihood destroyed, been injured, manipulated, deceived, and had their marital partners commit adultery against them, too.
And many of these who are the ones being taken advantage of, and injured by the sins of others, are crying out to God in their suffering, and the Lord hears their cries. And he has a day in mind when he will judge their oppressors, and even now God is judging many nations and the church in those nations who have rebelled against him and who are not repentant.
James 5:7-11 ESV
“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”
Be Patient and Wait on the Lord
So, if we are among the oppressed, the forgotten, the hated, the abused, the mistreated, the cheated, the slandered, and the persecuted, and we have been crying out to the Lord in our distress, and in our injuries, we are to know that he hears our cries and he is acting, and he will act.
We just have to be patient and wait on him. And it isn’t that we desire to see others suffer, or that we want payback, or that we take pleasure in the thought of the wrath of God coming upon anyone. We who love Jesus do not wish any of that. Our desire is to see all people saved from their sins.
But we do look forward to the day when our suffering will end, and we will be with our Lord forevermore, and the wicked will be no more. Sin will no longer be an issue. We won’t be in pain anymore. The Lord will wipe every tear from our eyes, and we will be at peace forever.
So, while we wait, we are not to grumble against one another. Now this is not to say that we can’t confront sin, or speak the truth in love, or call for repentance and obedient walks of faith, or that we can’t expose the fruitless deeds of darkness or call out wolves in sheep’s clothing. We should! We just shouldn’t be gossiping and complaining about others, just murmuring.
We are to look to Jesus, and to the prophets of God before him, and to the apostles as examples for how they dealt with unjust suffering. They weren’t perfect, except for Jesus, but they did endure much unjust suffering at the hands of their oppressors, and they, for the most part, remained steadfast in faith and purpose and in obedience to the Lord.
Job was a man of God who was righteous in God’s sight, but God allowed him to go through much unjust suffering at the hand of Satan, and even at the hands of some of his friends who accused him falsely of wrongdoing. When all was said and done, though, God said that Job spoke of God what was right, and he called Job his servant.
So, these examples serve as encouragement to us to remain steadfast under suffering, to keep trusting the Lord, and to keep following him in doing what he asks us to do and to say. For our God is fully sovereign, and he has a purpose for it all, and he will work all things together for the good of those who love (obey) him, who have been called according to his purpose.
A Believer’s Prayer
An Original Work / July 31, 2012
With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.
Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.
Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.