Read James 5:4-6 (ESV)
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.
How can luxury and self-indulgence lead to this kind of evil behavior?
In his first letter to Timothy the apostle Paul warned, “But godliness with contentment is great gain…for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Timothy 6:6,10). Yesterday, we saw how this love of money often leads to a hoarding and stockpiling of treasure on earth. But ultimately, this treasure trove we make for ourselves turns to rust and dust. It has no eternal value. And yet, people often go to great lengths to acquire and keep worldly treasure.
Today, James goes into more detail about the wealthy that he called out yesterday. He revealed that these rich landowners withheld payments to those who had worked their fields. They already had much but they wanted even more so they cheated those who had less and who had worked to earn it! Eventually though, even that wasn’t enough. They went from stockpiling wealth, to committing fraud, to ultimately committing murder. They were never content with what they had so one thing led to another which led to another. Their love of money was the root of several different kinds of evil.
But James is clear that their wrongdoing did not go unnoticed. He said that the cries of the oppressed were heard by the Lord of hosts. The God who commands armies of angels has heard and He will judge them. James compared their luxurious lives on earth to that of cattle being fattened. They thought they were living their best life and living large, but in reality they were preparing themselves for the slaughter.
This is the problem with self-indulgence. If you never exercise self-control and self-denial, when does it stop? At some point, if we aren’t content with what we have, we will engage in sinful behavior to keep getting more and more. But the irony is that, at the end of our lives, we will have nothing of value to show for it. We can’t keep it. We can’t take it with us. And it doesn’t buy us eternal life. If we truly want great gains, we will live as Paul advised Timothy—with godliness and contentment.
Friends, it is easy to get wrapped up in wanting the next best thing and then the next. If we aren’t careful, our desire to have all of these things can lead us into sin. Instead of living lives of luxury and self-indulgence, let’s be content with what we have. This life isn’t about living for ourselves. It’s about living for Him and glorifying Him. Our best life isn’t this one anyway. For believers in Christ, our best life is the one to come.
Father, I confess that sometimes I struggle with contentment. But I know that coveting can lead to greed which can lead to sin. I don’t want to go down that road. You have given me so many good things and provided for my needs. Help me to appreciate what I have. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
If you found value in this post, please share your comments, questions, and prayers with us!Discipleship Tip: Sharing is discipleship. Invite a friend to join you each day for a morning coffee and conversation about God. Click the sharing button below to get the conversation started.