“Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.” (James 5:2–3, AV)
There is a television show called “Hoarders” that features people who have amassed all kinds of stuff that they just cannot throw away. For some, what they have saved is mostly worthless, such as old newspapers, used cans, plastic bags, etc. Others have accumulated useable goods, but more than they could ever need and store. Sometimes, they just left the purchased goods in the original bags unopened. I had to stop watching the show because every time I walked into my garage, I came under conviction. In my garage, I saved scrap pieces of wood, drywall, screws, nails and hardware, old paint, used car parts, etc. Basically, I kept the left overs from various projects for the future projects when I might need them. In my defense, at least I had a purpose for all the stuff I had accumulated.
In assessing this issue of hoarding, it seems accumulating stuff is not a problem if one has a plan to use it, and that for a good purpose. It is wrong to accumulate and let the stuff sit and rot like some of the things seen on the show, “Hoarders.” It is also wrong if it is not used for the right purposes. In this section of James’ letter, he wrote a strong rebuke to those who have accumulated wealth. One of the great problems was that they were hoarding money. It was doing nothing to fulfill the purposes of God. Therefore, it was sitting there rotting and becoming basically worthless.
Now, there is nothing wrong with saving for a rainy-day, for something that you might need, or your future retirement. Yet, what the business people of whom James wrote were doing went beyond this. They were amassing money and hording it for their love of money alone and their pursuit of self-indulgent pleasures. They had no desire to bless others or fulfill the purposes of God with their abundance.
Regarding the rich, Paul challenged Timothy to give this exhortation.
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;” (1 Timothy 6:17–18, AV)
In Paul’s writing we see two key issues that may affect the rich. First, they may trust riches rather than the living God. Second, as associated with the first, they may not use their blessing of wealth for the glory of God. I know of several very wealthy Christian business people who used their wealth for the greater purposes of God. Yes, they did accumulate, but their perspectives were correct. They realized that God blessed them financially for a greater purpose. They helped missionaries, ministries, people in need, struggling churches, etc. Their wealth was not sitting and rotting without a noble purpose.
All of us as believers are rich in many ways. Some are rich in money. Some are rich in time. Some are rich in abilities. Some are rich with abundance of goods and some are rich with little. Let us not allow our riches to be hoarded and rot without fulfilling a greater purpose. Let us consider how we might use our riches for the glory of God.