James has some harsh words for rich people. But who are the rich people? Most people in America are rich by the world’s standards – we have food to eat, more than one pair of shoes, etc. But almost no one considers themselves “rich” – rich always means that we would have to have a LOT more. Step 1 – realize that we are rich, and that these verses are aimed at most of us.
Step 2 – take these verses seriously. Why do I have more than I need? It is not for me – it is to help others. People gain wealth through opportunity and hard work. But then rich people forget that someone (or some One) provided the opportunity, and take all the credit for the hard work. Even more, they look down on poor people and say “they must not work hard like me.” Rather, our job, with the excess we have, is to provide the opportunity, as others and God have provided for us. We are to treat employees with dignity and help them move their lives forward – not suck the life out of them and try to get every last penny.
It all comes down to one principle – we serve God, not money. And in the end there is a bottom line BENEATH the financial bottom line – a deeper evaluation of whether it was a “good year” or not – how we blessed others with our blessings.