God Hears And He Responds
People do not want to suffer for their evil acts.
First Church’s wealthy were extremely upset because judgment had come to them. James showed no sympathy or empathy for them:
“Come [quickly] now, you rich [who lack true faith and hoard and misuse your resources], weep and howl over the miseries [the woes, the judgments] that are coming upon you.” James 5:1, Amplified Bible).
To paraphrase James using African American vocabulary and attitude the above verse would read like this: “Stop all that crying. No better for you! You want to act all pitiful now that God is paying you back for what you did to the poor. That’s what you get!”
The wealthy Christians routinely abused the poor Christians, but they did not want to suffer for their actions. It may take a while; but be certain of this one fact: what you sow, you will reap (good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over).
“Your wealth has rotted and is ruined and your [fine] clothes have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. You have stored up your treasure in the last days [when it will do you no good]” (James 5:23, Amplified Bible).
God had avenged the poor in a way that only He could. He turned the blessings of the wealthy into great tragedy because they had sinned greatly against their poor brethren. What exactly did they do? I am glad you asked.
Sinful act #1 – “Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty” James 5:4. Christians often ask God to bless them, but once blessed they forget to bless others. Some First Church wealthy landowners were blessed materially, but poor in spirit. In this instance, their fellow Christian farmworkers were not asking for a handout or a free blessing. They just wanted what was due them – pay for the work done. So, they cried out to God in heaven for help because there was no help for them on earth.
“The laborers lived a hand-to-mouth existence. They needed a wage each day to purchase life’s necessities. A wealthy employer might retain wages until the end of the harvest to prevent the workman from leaving him. If the worker protested, the rich man could blacklist him. If the poor went before judges, the rich had better legal representation” (Holman New Testament Commentary).
In addition to it being the right thing to do to pay workers a just wage on time, it was God’s commandment for His people:
- Leviticus 19:13 – Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.
- Deuteronomy 24:14-15 – Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns. 15 Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it. Otherwise they may cry to the Lord against you, and you will be guilty of sin.
- Jeremiah 22;13 – Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his own people work for nothing, not paying them for their labor.
It would bother me greatly to know that people were crying out to God because of something I did to them. “The Lord hears the needy” (Psalm 69:13) and He is almighty. No amount of money in the world can help when God vindicates the wrong done to His children. Ask Pharaoh!
Sinful Act #2 – “On the earth you have lived luxuriously and abandoned yourselves to soft living and led a life of wanton pleasure [self-indulgence, self-gratification]; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter” (James 5:5, Amplified Bible). They lived high on the hog while pushing others into the ground, not realizing that it would all end very badly. God sees. “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them” (Deut. 32:35). That is why they are howling and crying, their judgement day had come. Their riches were vanishing before their eyes.
Sinful Act #3 – “You have condemned and have put to death the righteous man; he offers you no resistance” (James 5:6, Amplified Bible). “…by their harsh treatment of others in withholding what was due to them, they had deprived them of the means of subsistence, and had, as it were, killed the righteous” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible).
It is disturbing that the Christian wealthy landowners’ hearts were so cold that they never thought to stop depriving the Christian poor. Now judgment had come, just as God said. He cannot lie.
What truths can we learn from this lesson?
The Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” Luke 6:31 and Matthew 7:12; Treat people the way you want to be treated.
Galatians 6:7 – Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. God will abundantly give back to you the evil you dod to others.
1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. Treat people right who mistreat you. Pray and tell your Heavenly Father all about it. In due season God will prepare a table before you in the presence of your enemies, anoint your head with oil, and make your cup run over (Psalm 23:5).
It is often hard to bless someone who has done you wrong. Also, it is hard not to become bitter if God does not immediately rectify the situation when you cry out to Him. Finally, it is hard to receive your punishment from God when we have done someone else wrong. Which do you find the hardest to do? Join the conversation.
Dr. Dorothy J. Haire
Author & Blogger
Both church planter and pastor of Bread of Life Christian Church for the last 18 years, Dr. Haire is a beloved mother and successful author. Empowered to deliver the word of God to His people, Dr. Haire uses her digital platform to educate and develop Christian communities that are rooted in the word of Christ.