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 treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you. (James 5:1-6 ESV)
This is a warning for people who increase their gains by means of oppression. They cut corners and cheat their workers out of a fair wage. And they probably don’t pay them on time because their luxuries take priority over someone else’s living. James warns cheaters that their treasure will rot away and that it will be used as evidence against them. The corrosion of gold and silver and moth-eaten garments are metaphors for corruption. Their wicked practices will be found out and they will have to answer to God for being the cause of unnecessary hardship.
I also think acts of cheating social programs by submitting false claims to obtain money will be condemned. Those who need the benefits most will be short-changed and may need to go another week or month without groceries, medicine, or rent money. The short of it is that God will judge people who rob from the poor to make themselves rich. His underestimated wrath will have its full effect at his appointed time.
As Christians, this is our reminder to be honest stewards and to use what we have to help expand the kingdom of God. We must resist the temptations of bribery, theft, and deceitful tactics when it comes to earning a living. Remember, God is our Provider and he will meet our needs…all of them. Jesus said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11). Trust God to be your Supplier.