Scripture: James 4:13 – 5:6
Key verse: (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.
Reflection: Who are the laborers who work for you and with you? They might be the cafeteria workers at the school, or the lawn service crew that comes weekly, or the cleaning service that empties the trash in your office and cleans the bathrooms. They might include the Uber driver who takes you uptown, or the TSA staff at the airport, or the pizza delivery person. They might be the grocery store workers who work at the cash register or who gather the carts from the parking lot and return them to their place in the store.
Today’s passage has a rough warning for rich people. The riches we have are temporary – clothes are eaten by moths and jewelry can rust and lose its shine. The author turns our attention to laborers and harvesters and claims that the Lord hears their cries when they are treated unfairly. And then the author warns that those who live in luxury and pleasure will be judged harshly.
I like luxury and pleasure. Don’t you? Sometimes I seek luxury and pleasure under the label of “self-care.” I work hard so I deserve this – right? But does my “luxury” mean that someone else is treated unjustly? Does my “pleasure” mean that someone else is demeaned? Are the “laborers” paid a living wage? As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I am called to work for justice in the world even when justice means I will lose wealth or power. Ouch. James wrote words of tough love to shake us out of complacency and to open us to see those outside our socioeconomic bubble. Ouch. The Lord hears the cries of those in need. Do we?
Prayer: Let your justice roll down like waters, O God. Give me the courage to recognize my own privilege and to see the ways my life hinders your justice. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear those who are treated unjustly. Give me strength to change what I can. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].