21 November 2013

James 5:1-6

“The wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.” (v. 4)


This is an incredibly powerful statement, especially living in the current era. CNBC reported last month that "the top richest 1% of people own 46% of global assets" and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that "nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or 1 in 8, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012". One of the nuances of these figures is that in Asia and the Pacific, there are significantly less hungry people than there were (about 40% less), but in developed countries, and in Africa, hunger has increased. There are 13 million hungry people in developed countries as I write this. Therefore, we can do things. The hunger of people close to home is much less of a task for us to tackle than those a long way away. What if we put people being fed as the absolute target of the next election? That no politician could expect to be voted for unless feeding the hungry was their number one priority? I dream of course, but this passage tells us "their rust will be evidence against you". The worst things that occur will not be swept under the carpet.

In Matthew 25, we hear of the king returning and we ask of him 'when did I see you hungry, and feed you?' And the king will reply 'just as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me'. The rapper Gil Scott-Heron once sang "nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something. And if everybody does something, then everything will get done." For me, this passage says that if I have a tin of beans in the cupboard and my literal neighbour does not, then they should have my tin.

To Ponder

  • To what extent does the overwhelming nature of poverty sometimes stop us from even approaching it?
  • What can you do in simple and actual terms to help someone who is hungry?

Bible notes author

Jon Curtis

Jon Curtis is a Venture FX pioneer minister in Exeter, Devon. He lives with his exceptional wife Beth, and beautiful baby Freddie.