A Warning Against Riches
The Law of God: Questions and Answers
How shall we understand and apply God’s Law today?
God’s Law is able to guard our hearts against sin.
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 treasures in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you have kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. James 5:1-4
The psalmist asks, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” (Ps.119:9) He answers that the Law and Word of God are able to guard our hearts against corruption.
But if we are ignorant of the Law, or if we are unskilled in interpreting it, how can we expect it to guard our hearts and keep them pure?
The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, as we know (1 Tim. 6:10). The Law of God, because it treats all of life as spiritual, as an arena for practicing love of God and neighbor, is designed to guide us in everyday practices that, as we do them, actually will guard our hearts and minds against the corrupting power of sin and enable us to love God and our neighbors at all times.
People who engage in fair and honest economic practices are not automatically ensured against falling prey to the love of money. However, they are taught, by the discipline of honesty, to regard other matters of more importance—neighbor love, for example. It is more important to be fair and honest with my neighbor than to take advantage of (oppress or rob) him by dishonest economic practices which might conduce to my material boon.
But if—whether willfully or in ignorance—I fail to keep the Law of God, I fall into transgression, and transgression becomes the new discipline whereby I live. And transgression, like the Law of God, is a whole cloth. If I cheat my neighbor, I might also cheat my wife. Love of money, after all, is only another form of fleeting pleasure, which is itself an expression of self-love run amok.
The Law of God can guard our hearts, but we, as James insisted, must apply ourselves to it.
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In the Gates is a devotional series on the Law of God by Rev. T. M. Moore, editor of the Worldview Church. He serves as dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of twenty books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are The Ailbe Psalter and The Ground for Christian Ethics (Waxed Tablet).
Scripture quotations in this article are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, (c) copyright 2001, 2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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