Beyond the Broadcast: Warnings to the Wealthy

“God’s concern is not with actual wealth but our attitude toward wealth. When we keep, we rot. When we give, there is a refreshing stream of God’s blessing.” ~ Charles R. Swindoll

In James 5:1–6 the Apostle James warned Jesus’ followers against playing God by presuming on the future. But let’s face it, playing God is not just an ancient problem. We also fall too easily into the rhythm of self-sufficiency in our day-to-day decision making with only a ceremonial hat-tip to God. And the most common way we play God? With our resources, money, and work—and our hallowed calendars and long-term plans. James shot straight in his warnings to the wealthy. Get ready: James’ advice isn’t just for people who possess great riches; it’s just as applicable to the pauper in Christ as to the prince.

“Look here, you rich people,” (James 5:1). Who exactly was James talking to? Earlier in his letter, James referenced the rich (James 1:10–11; 2:6–7) but in chapter 5 he nailed rich unbelievers to the wall with conviction.

James didn’t have a vendetta against materially rich people; his warnings were specifically for those who possess material wealth but exist in spiritual poverty. His warning is clear: trusting in the strength of riches instead of trusting in Christ will end in disaster.

In his view, James had those who abuse their work, money, or influence to enrich themselves at the expense of others. He was also warning those who commit idolatry by placing their faith in stuff rather than in God. Anyone from any tax bracket can be guilty of trusting in treasure rather than in God.

So how do we stop playing God with our stuff and, instead, allow Him to be the steward of our wealth and the focus of our hearts? There are a few gut-checks we can remember in this all-important discipline of examining our hearts.

  • God’s concern is not with actual wealth but our attitude toward wealth
  • We should never be conceited. We ought never find security in our dollar
  • We can humbly fix our hope on God and be rich in good works

Lord, everything I have is Yours. My life. My money. My employees and employers. My family and friends. My children and grandchildren. You own everything, Lord. Keep my heart humble and my hands open to receive and give according to Your will. Thank You for Your generosity and love toward me. In the name of Jesus, I pray, amen.

Warnings to the Wealthy” is from Chuck Swindoll’s series James: Hands-On Christianity. You can stream this message online anytime at