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.
– James 5:1-6
James indicts the wealthy people of his time saying that they fraudulently kept back wages from their workers and that they fattened their own hearts in a day of slaughter. He also says they unjustly criminalized and murdered those who had done no wrong.
I know not every rich person (as an American I consider myself in that category) has directly committed these offenses. Not every rich person has withheld pay from their gardener, settled in luxury during a national wartime, or hired lawyers to wrongfully accuse someone of a crime worthy of the death penalty. But what I am worried about is, how much separation is necessary? What if I’m reaping the benefits of another rich person’s unfair dealings? Is it enough to simply pay the price on the tag for whatever I buy, or is the point here to not take part in any product or service if there is even one person involved who is not being fairly compensated? After reading this text, I’m really leaning towards the latter. I’m finding it hard to believe that turning a blind eye to injustice when we use the money God has blessed us with to buy things that bless ourselves is righteous.
God, this time in your word has led to more questions than answers. How do I know what businesses are fair to people? How do I avoid supporting companies that thrive on other people’s poverty? I need your help, Holy Spirit. You give discernment like no other. God, refill my grace daily for times I don’t notice or recognize the injustice in this world that I enable, and guide me in your power to love people more than pleasure.
This post is part of my Weekly REAP series. I’m posting these from my personal journal to share what God is teaching me, and to give some practical examples of the REAP method. I didn’t write any of these with publishing in mind, so forgive me if they don’t always wax eloquent. Here is some more information on the REAP study method.