Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. (ESV)
Have you ever imagined what it would be like to have enough money that you could do whatever you wanted? If money were an endless supply for you what would change in your current situation? Would you move to an exotic island? Perhaps you would buy that sports car you have always dreamed of. You might even purchase your favorite sports team.
We tend to think that having large amounts of money would be the solution to our problems and the guarantee of happiness. Scripture has a different perspective. In fact, this verse is pretty severe in the words that it directs toward those who are rich. They are called to weep and howl for the miseries coming their way.
At first glance, it would seem that James is saying that no one should be rich. It raises the question as to whether it is a sin for a Christian to be wealthy. James is not addressing all who have wealth. He is referring to those who claim to belong to Christ, yet in reality, they are worshiping their wealth. Their money is their god. They are idolaters.
Having wealth is a dangerous thing. If our heart is pursuing pleasure in anything other than in God himself we are following idols. If we were to go from being poor to having great wealth and our heart was pursuing pleasure, not God, we would spend all of our money on the lusts of this world. This was the case in the people James was referring to. Judgment was coming for them.
Think about how you responded to the idea of having unlimited wealth. Your thoughts of what you would do if you had all that money speaks to where your heart is. Pursue God, not possessions.