In Philippians 4, Paul lays out his plan for success quite succinctly. Paul tells the Philippians that he has learned to be content in all circumstances. Whether well fed or hungry living in plenty or in want that he could do all things through Christ Who strengthens him. (Phil 4:12-13) In these verses from James, the author takes the negative side of that argument. He tells the people who have had plenty and rely upon their riches and wealth for security and peace that they will come to a long and brutal end. Conversely, he tells those that have struggled not to lose hope, that God will provide in His time and in His way. In short, James tells the people that they need to be content in serving and trusting God no matter what their circumstances may bring.
Fast forward to this week of Thanksgiving. We as God’s chosen still need to fully rely upon God. If we are wealthy and have all the security we think we need, that is when we should seek Him and lay all that we have on the altar for Him to bless. When God blesses us with wealth; it is to prepare us to rely upon Him despite our feeling of self-sufficiency. That is often difficult, but when one finds the ability to be free from their dependence upon their own wealth, it allows God to bless them even more. Conversely, when one acts completely self-sufficient, they never are quite satisfied, nor are they ever quite secure in their wealth. Their wealth becomes their prison and they never are free to enjoy the life God has given them.
As for those that struggle to make ends meet; they face the same drama. They live in constant fear of losing what they have. They are always chasing ways to make circumstances better. James tells such folks, be patient, do not grumble and trust God to prepare, provide and protect you in your journey. There is very little actual difference in cause and effect. In all circumstances, we must choose to rely upon God for everything we have and how we proceed in the journey. If we will do that, God will, in his time, bless us. If we choose to rely upon our own power, we will sadly find no peace. Solomon said it best, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not lean on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all your ways, and He will make your paths straight!” Proverbs 3:5-6
God Bless You
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 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. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.[a] 6 You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.
Patience in Suffering
7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.