Weeping Wages by Virgil Stripes
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.
What can this passage teach us? That it is wrong to be rich? No, I don’t think so. I think it gives a warning if you cheat people. I think this would apply regardless if we are rich or not. In other places in the Scriptures, it states that the workman is worthy of his wages. So if we hire someone for something, we need to treat them fairly. Notice the passage above specifically talks about keeping the wages back unfairly (by fraud).
Similar to When Cain killed Able, and Able’s blood called out to the Lord from the ground. This says the wages are crying out for justice. This is certainly allegorical, but because God knows all and sees all, we need to ensure we are fair in our dealings with others.
Jesus told a parable about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus that sat outside the rich man’s gate. The rich man did nothing with his wealth to assist Lazarus. When the rich man died, he went to the place of suffering. Lazarus on the other hand, went to the place of rest. I think what this can teach us, is whatever we have, we should be generous toward others. I need to ensure that I treat others fairly.
I think this can even apply to the worker. I need to ensure that I earn my paycheck at work. I need to benefit my boss. He has hired me to work. I need to make sure he gets his money’s worth. The Scriptures also tell us to be satisfied with our wages. So greed can get you either way. Therefore, let us be aware of the traps in our lives to be discontent, or to cheat others, and remember, we answer to a Holy God.