James is not saying wealth is wrong; rather, he denounces wealth when it gets in the way of our relationships and call from God and when we use it to bring harm to others. This comes down to our attitude concerning security, and priorities about money over spiritual and relational matters!
Our focus needs to be to God and our trust in Him, not money, things, or power! It is not your bank account; it is your soul account!
Our true riches are in Christ alone! Wealth is not sinful, or even harmful, as long as it is seen as a tool. It does become a problem and a distraction when it becomes our focus and God is pushed out of the picture. We are also called to use and be responsible and accountable stewards with wealth; so, use it wisely, with honesty, and do not horde it, misuse it, exploit it, steal it, or waste it. Give it away with generosity for the godly influence to further His Kingdom (Prov. 11:24-25; 15:27; 16:8; 17:23; 20:17; 21:14; 22:2; 23:1-3; 30:7-9; Eccl. 5:10-20; Matt. 6:19-21; 25: 14-30; Luke 12:13-21; Acts 4:36-37; Eph. 5:10; 1 Tim. 6:10).
Condemned… murdered, in this context, it is not actual murder, but the setting up of events that lead to it.
The abuse of power will cause the loss of life. The rich in James’ day were taking food away from the people, not providing wages so they starved while they worked, and taking their coats away in extortion so they would freeze to death, too! The image is the oppression of the poor, as the wicked were scheming against the righteous. In this context, James warns them to repent.
This condemnation of judgment does not pertain to a Christian because we are saved by grace. It is condemnation to a non-Christian; a real Christian would never do this. The audience for this passage is also the aristocratic Jews and pretenders who say they are Christians, but their lack of fruit clearly shows otherwise (Isa. 13-23; Jer. 46-51; Ezek. 25-32; Amos 1:3-2:16; Zeph. 2:4-15).
The question is, do we “listen up” to what God is saying to us? Do we ask ourselves (and, of course, God Himself), what does God want from me?
Because if we do not, our focus in life becomes skewed! To focus upon what the world defines as success is to miss out on things that are much greater, both for the here-and-now and for eternity to come. For the person whose pursuit is in wealth, it becomes a weed that chokes off the soul from God and from others. One of the hardest things to do is be a Christian with worldly wealth because it most always leads to worldly interests that lead to worldly activities.
Wealth can be done and be done for greatness, but most, if not all of the time, it only brings darkness to light and blurs the Christian soul in the desires of the world. This leaves the person empty from lost opportunities, destitute of important relationships, and from Christ as Lord. If all we do is live for this world, then there may be nothing left for the next!
Do you worry?
Consider that we have a God who loves and provides. He fulfills us with Himself beyond our expectations. He will meet our deepest needs. We can trust in Him! If you are a worrier, the call is to worship in place of that worry (Matt. 6:19-34)!