Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
(James 5:1-6 ESV)
I heard the story once of a weary traveler who came upon a fairy glen. The glen was filled with all sorts of gold and treasures. He was told by the fairy king that he could take all that would fit in his pocket and so throughout the night the man madly filled his pockets and attempted to find ways to fit more and more gold into them. Then at the moment of dawn all the gold the man had filled his pockets with turned to straw and all he could hear was the fairies laughing at him.
James writes a lot about rich and poor people. In his day most rich people became rich by taking advantage of poor people. James reminds us that there is a greater treasure than gold and while some people spend countless hours and effort to make lots of money that at the end of the day gold is worthless because it can’t save you and what’s even more tragic for the unrighteous rich is that we will all answer to God for how we have mistreated others. Like the man who filled his pockets with gold only to find out it was straw, those who value money over people will one day soon wake up to see all their efforts have been wasted.