December 07, 2004

Marjorie on James 5:1-5 (6)

How rich is too rich? I note that verse 4 indicates that these rich are cheats, not paying the wages they owe to others. Is this speaking only to the lawless?

Verse 2 speaks of rotting wealth and moth-eaten clothes because wealth is worth nothing, its transient and has no lasting value.

Verse 3: "you have hoarded wealth" -- ouch -- "in the last days" -- you never know when its too late.

Here's where I get into trouble with kwakersaur (did I mention I have an ancestor who was kicked out of a Quaker community? it might be genetic) by extending the passage, in my Bible verse 6 is the last sentence of the paragraph. "You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you." Ah...these were some bad dudes, different from me, right?

How expansive are we to read 'condemned' and 'murdered'? In a study I took on the Ten Commandments, we were taught that the prohibition on murder could extend to character assassination (gossip) and ill will. Read expansively, condemn might mean judge and murder might be harboring ill will towards others. Guess I'm not safe after all.

Things don't look so great for me so I'll return to my initial question, how rich is rich? A salary of 5 figures or 6 or 7? Is 'rich' solely a monetary description? Might is also refer to other blessings -- a happy childhood, nuturing parents who enable one to be a blessing to others? One who has been given the advantage of a formal education? One whose material needs have been satisfied?

I should note that my Bible provides a heading for 5:1-6, Warning to Rich Oppressors. How am I oppressing others? How can I stop?


At 8:11 p.m., Blogger david said...

I would be reading murder and condemnation fairly literally. You condemn someone to the Romans and they nail you to a tree.

At 3:53 a.m., Blogger Larry said...

Congratulations, dear girl. That's what I call confessional preaching- the only kind worth listening to.

You are right! We are all incredibly wealthy. Years ago Gordon Cosby, of the Church of the Saviour in Washington, preached a sermon on this theme. Afterward we were milling around, and I bumped into Bob Bainum, one of the owners of Manor Care (if you know what that means). I said "Bob, I'm rich". He said, "Yes, I am, too."

As you intimate, my riches were spiritual, relatively speaking, his material as well as spiritual. It was doing the days of the Vietnamese boat people. Bob bought a ship and sent it over there to pick some of them up.

As I knew Bob, he was trying his damnest to be a Christian although rich, and I think he succeeded, at least to some degree, which is the most the majority of us can say.

Incidentally Blake had a good bit to say on this theme-- a great deal in fact. Like David, Crystal and I have been, he was poor, very poor, penurious, and still managed to keep his integrity as an artist and Christian prophet.

Back to the beginning: it's wonderful to see you blossoming out like that. I shouldn't say this, but you're too good for the 'Epis'.

At 1:35 p.m., Blogger Marjorie said...

thanks so much for your comment, Larry. Well, if I'm too good for the 'Epis' just think of me as pre-Quaker.

At 5:49 a.m., Blogger david said...


I luv it!


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