“1 Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. 2 Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. 4 Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you.” NRSV
Just so you know, most of the daily mediations come from a daily resource that aligns with the Revised Common Lectionary. The Revised Common Lectionary is a three-year cycle of suggested Bible texts for preaching that coincides with the church calendar year. Each of the three years focuses on one of the Synoptic Gospels (Year A -Matthew, Year B- Mark, Year C – Luke, with readings from John interspersed throughout all three years). The church year begins on the first Sunday of Advent. Currently, we are nearing the end of Year B.
Oftentimes, pastors are accused of cherry-picking biblical texts for personal, political, or more suspicious reasons. While there are some pastors who do that, they aren’t the ones I have been blessed to call colleagues and friends in ministry. Most I know use the time tested and trusted resource of the Revised Common Lectionary to help them preach and teach. This assures us that we will wrestle with the more difficult texts in the Bible and not just preach on a handful of our favorite texts. Preaching from a handful of selected passages is actually far more manipulative.
This reading from James is one of those texts that most of us would rather avoid. But it is as present in the Bible as John 3:17, and it is the reading for this morning from the daily lectionary resource. So, it begs our attention.
This reading shines its light on me and my ministry just as much as it shines the light on everyone else. Wolves will put on ministerial robes, too, to hide in the sheepfold.
The real point of this text is a simple one. It aligns with Jesus’ basic gospel message nicely summarized in the Golden Rule – “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” I doubt seriously that the people performing the behaviors that James condemns wanted to be cheated, lied to and taken advantage of. At the top of their lungs, they would have cried “foul!” if the tables were turned. Fortunately for us all, Jesus is the one calling the game of life we are playing. He knows a real “foul ball” when he sees one.
Thanks be to God!
Be a blessing to someone today!