“The Rich and God’s Judgment”

In this portion of God’s Word James addresses the unrighteous rich and warns them of God’s coming judgment (James 5:1-6). The judgment of God is coming upon them not because they are rich, but because they lay up riches for themselves and do not share with those in need. Rather than use their riches for the good of others, they hoard them for themselves until they become corrupted. This corruption itself will be a witness against them on judgment day of their selfishness and failure to assist the poor. James not only rebukes them for hoarding their riches, but for withholding pay from their employees.
Though James addressed the unrighteous rich, they probably never read what he wrote here. What James wrote here in the fifth chapter of his epistle was for the benefit of his Christian readers. No doubt some of them could be counted in the number of laborers who went unpaid. They were among the just whom the rich condemned and murdered. That these six verses were penned for their encouragement is evident in the very next verse: “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.” The Lord of Sabaoth (Hosts) will come and judge their oppressors, and deliver them form their tribulations (cp. 2Thess 1:3-10). These trials are among those of which James instructed them at the start of his letter. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (1:2-3).