Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. That statement, found at the very end of the passage we are looking at today, describes clearly what the problem is here that James is addressing. The main point is the hoarding of wealth. Once again, the issue is NOT the fact that wealth exists, but the useless and selfish hoarding of it. “Wait,” readers may say; “are you trying to tell me that saving money is wrong?”
No, not at all. If fact, God’s Word is clear that the setting aside money for a rainy day and the future is a good thing to do. Never is making provision for ourselves, our families, and our future condemned in God’s Word. Let’s look at that.
Proverbs 21:20 There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.
Proverbs 13:11 Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.
Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it]
1 Timothy 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
Clearly, saving for the future is not a bad thing. What then is the problem?
In the days and times this was written in, wealth was measured on some key ways. Apparel was one of them. Simply put, the wealthy could afford nicer clothing than the poor. Wealth was often measured by the quality and richness of the clothing a person wore. Additionally, money at the time was gold and silver, metals that were tender able in and of themselves.They were not paper representations of precious metals like we use today for money.
But what was happening to these representations of wealth? Well their garments were “motheaten,” and their gold and silver were “cankered,” or rusted. First the term cankered in relation to gold and silver seems odd, since pure gold and silver neither rust or canker. When might clothes become moth eaten or gold and silver become rusted? The answer is, when they are stored, amassed, and uselessly hoarded.
If saving money is clearly ok, yet the useless hoarding of it is not, then where are we going here? What are we to be doing with our wealth once we have sufficient for ourselves? Our passage states one thing clearly when it establishes the thought that hoarding is wrong. The motheaten clothes and cankered metals will be “a witness against you.”
So, what is the purpose of our riches and what should we be doing with them? Thoughts anyone?