Introduction: One of my college professors, Dr Ward Anderson, called this passage, “The Miser’s Miseries!”
Theme: The Error of not keeping a Proper Perspective on the Rich
Introduction: It is not a sin to be rich. One who was called a friend of God is described as being rich: Gen 13:2 “And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.” In this passage James is describing the future judgment and characteristics of the ungodly rich that he referred to in chapter 2:6b-7 “Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?” In this life it may appear that the rich have the advantage but James makes it very clear that their judgment is coming.
The Psalmist questioned why the ungodly prospered in this life: Read Psalm 73
I. Prediction of the future miseries of the ungodly rich (vs.1).
II. Description of the future miseries of the ungodly rich (vs.2-3).
- The abiding description of their riches on judgment day will witness against them. “perfect tense”—denotes an abiding condition
- “Shall eat your flesh as it were fire”
A remorseful conscience? or a description of body in hell – Mat. 5:29
- Illustration: Lazarus & Rich man Luke 16:19-31
III. Delineation of the charges against the ungodly rich (vs.4-6).
- Oppression of the poor laborers (vs.4)
To keep back the wages of the laborer is denounced in scripture: Lev-19:13; Deu-24:14; Jer-22:13; Mal-3:5; Job-24:6.
Pro 22:16 He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.
- Living in luxurious self-indulgence (vs.5)
- Murder of the righteous (vs.6). Jesus upbraids the rich leaders –
- Parable of the rich fool –Luke 12:16-21
- Incident of the rich young ruler – Luke 18:18-30
- Wisdom from Scripture concerning riches:
Proverbs 23:4-5, “Labor not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” (see further Proverbs 28:6, 11, 20, 22).
1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”