You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. - James 5:5
To be clear, James is not calling out every rich person in verse as self indulgent. There are plenty of godly rich people who have been blessed abundantly by God, just as there are ungodly people who have lost everything and are living on the streets. James isn’t drawing a correlation between money and salvation, but he is addressing the temptation of many rich people.
Some wealthy people have a tendency to focus on their own selfish needs and lack compassion for those in need. The metaphor of fattening their hearts likens them to cattle who eat continuously with no regard for others or even their own self, and the day of slaughter points to the day of judgment. A selfish lifestyle will incur guilt.
If we spend our wealth only on ourselves, buying material comforts with no regard to the people struggling around us, we are self indulgent people. If God has blessed us with wealth, then He has also placed the expectation on us to care for those in need. It’s a matter of the heart.
Some may dismiss these verses as not applicable to them because their financial situation is always in distress. Just a word of caution - our bank account alone does not determine our level of self-indulgence, our heart does. Rich or poor, God looks at our heart. If our focus is on personal gain, and not on the needs of others, then we struggle with the sin James is addressing here. Whether we hoard our money, refusing to hand it out to people in need for fear of a future need, or we spend it lavishly every time there is a sale at our favorite store, the focus is ourselves. We are just as self-indulgent as the wealthy he is addressing if our heart is in the same place.
God calls us to put the needs of others before our own. If we know of a need, and we choose to use the money He has blessed us with on our own need, then we struggle with sin. Every penny you have - whether many or few - belongs to Him. We are called to use His money to bless the kingdom.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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