v 1 Look here, you rich people …
Ah hah, I can almost hear you say, that’s not me! I’m not one of the rich people. I’m not a Banker, or Footballer, or CEO of a big company, I’m just little old me. I live in an ordinary little house – and I don’t drive a big car or go away on luxury holidays. I haven’t got a second home in the sun or even a caravan come to that! No, this passage is definitely not about me. Nobody would ever think of me as rich, so let’s move on to verse 7. ‘Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return.‘ Of course, that’s more the kind of reading I want and expect. (Notice the big I again?)
So hold on a moment – you are one of the world’s really rich people! You have had an education, can read, probably have a computer or mobile phone, you have a home in a safe and pleasant place and the benefits of a national health service. You enjoy the benefits of a welfare state and an accessible food supply. You have a bed; gas, electricity and water on tap. You’ve a change of clothing for another day.
Now I won’t wax too hot about it (but I should), because we are in the top few percent of the world’s richest people! Of course this bit of the Bible is relevant to us, so read carefully what it has to say. ‘This corroded treasure you have hoarded will testify against you on the day of judgment. For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. ‘ It is about treasure (money) hoarded and not used; it is about the exploitation of workers (even if in an under-developed country); it is about the rich (us) living it up at the expense of the poor.
This passage comes as a call to generous living, and to do something about the huge disparity between rich and poor nations. (If I were writing this rather than typing my pen nib would be heating up.)
Supporting Fair Trade is a start, but then we have to move on to try to ensure trade is fairly conducted on a world-wide basis.