Is Misery Upon Me?
Jesus, in Matthew chapter 6, is the middle of His sermon on the mount. There are many many verses in the two chapters of Matthew that take us threw this sermon that are probably familiar, but these verses are ones I have heard since I was a kid in Sunday school:
Matthew 6: 19 - 21
19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
These verses to me are very clear. Our tether needs to be heavenly and not earthly. As Christians we need to not be bound by riches we accumulate here on earth because… well, they are corruptible and not going to last.
In James 5… the passage goes a bit further. James previously in chapter 4 gives warning about boasting about tomorrow. He is addressing a pervasive attitude that was very culturally wide spread, and honestly, it is the same today. People were tethering themselves to the world. Their plans were all about what business deal they were going to make and how much money they would secure.
So in chapter 5, James immediately paints the picture of the reverse side of laying up treasures in heaven. He sarcastically calls out to “rich people”. He calls for them to weep and wail because misery is coming. So what is the misery. The misery is that their wealth is rotted. Their possessions have been taken over by corrosion and the most damning part… It has become a testament against them!
Understand that the wealth was not the issue here. James describes in verses 4-6 the issue. These people were acquiring wealth dishonestly. They were cheating people and taking pride in it. They were doing this because they had tethered themselves to the things of the world.
It can be dangerous to read this part of James out of the context of what James is saying in the previous chapter. We could walk away thinking that those that are rich are doomed. Yes, riches can be a huge stumbling block. We MUST be careful to guard our hearts. The biggest thing that I take from this is that I must not ever find myself tethered to the “things” of this world. Being tethered to things will ultimately dictate my actions toward people and toward the Lord.
It is a sobering thought to evaluate my life and my possessions and put them to this test. Is my house and comfort so important that I am willing to step on others for my life style to be maintained? Are my “things” becoming a testament against me? Is misery upon me? … something to think about!
Soli Deo Gloria