James is intent on demonstrating to his readers that wealth is not only a useless commodity, but potentially harmful. In this he is consistent with the teachings of Jesus, who declared that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven. You may have heard the almost certainly apocryphal tale that one of the entrances into Jerusalem was so narrow that any rich merchant trying to go through it with all his loaded camels would have to dismount and divest them of their load and this gate was called 'the eye of the needle'...nice story! As James makes it clear here, it is not so much the wealth, it is the way it has been obtained. Some become rich, but ensure that their workers are treated fairly. We have the evidence in the building of workers' villages such as Bournville to demonstrate that both strands can be knitted together. However, those condemned by James are acting unjustly when they are in a position to do otherwise. I am not envious of those who are rich, because they have an enormous weight of responsibility to use their money to bring justice. A few days ago, I was listening to Bill Gates reading from his autobiography and I mused over what it was that drew him to philanthropy. He has spent maybe half his life accruing great wealth and is now spending the other half giving it all away! Anyway, good for him. If you are wealthy, consider how best you can bring justice to peoples' lives, spend wisely. We were only able to set up the Foodbank in Callington because a very wealthy banker donated five thousand pounds as start up. We never met him, he had a married couple working for him who came and looked round what we hoped would be our food store and the money was given without need for paperwork. A wise man using his God-given wealth wisely.
top of page
bottom of page