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  • Writer's pictureShawn Thornton

Wealth is a Deadly Master

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

Monday - March 8th

Devotionals from the Book of James

Scripture to Read Today: James 5:1-6


Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.

Your gold and silver are corroded.

Their corrosion will testify against you

and eat your flesh like fire.

You have hoarded wealth in the last days.

James 5:2-3

On March 21, 1947, an anonymous man called the New York Police to complain about the smell of decomposition from an old, dilapidated brownstone on Fifth Avenue. Once there, the policemen couldn't even find a way inside. The entryway was filled with a pile of junk — newspapers, boxes, chairs, etc. It took six officers to make their way just through the entryway.

Finally, as the officers tossed junk out onto the street below, a patrolman broke in through a second-floor window. Then, after fighting through more of the stuff piled to the ceiling, they found Homer Collyer's body. He'd been dead approximately ten hours. He died of heart disease and starvation. It had taken the police five hours of digging through the junk to find his body.

Police, the media, and neighbors quickly suspected that Homer's brother, Langley, was both the anonymous tipster and the killer. The brothers had lived together for more than a decade, and now, Langley was missing. An area-wide search for the living brother took on a sense of urgency.

As they searched the brownstone which the brothers shared, authorities turned up nothing but more of the same junk. Thousands gathered on the street to watch workers carry everything from newspapers to a piano to an X-ray machine out of the house. When it was all over, 120 tons of junk was removed from the Fifth Avenue brownstone.

After nearly three weeks of cleanup, on April 9, laying inside a two-foot-wide tunnel made of drawers and bedsprings, workers found Langley Collyer's body. He had been dead for months. It appeared that Langley had been caring for the ailing Homer. Langley was crawling through the tunnel when a booby-trap he had set for intruders was triggered and he was crushed by debris. Homer then died later with no one to care for him. The brothers’ bodies were ten feet apart when both were discovered.

They died with significant financial resources. The problem was not a lack of means. They had become so fixed on keeping everything - including their money - that they killed themselves in the pursuit of hoarding it all. Their story is a dramatic one, but a pointed one.

James 5:1-6 warns the wealthy who greedily hoard their resources that their stuff will devour them. In verses two and three, James uses similar language as Jesus did in the Sermon on the Mount. He speaks of moth and rust corrupting and destroying earthly treasure.

Riches in and of themselves are not evil. God blesses many of His children with wealth. But, wealth can distract us from the important things of life. Wealth can distract us from the things of God. The distraction happens when we allow our hearts, our minds, even our very lives to get far too invested in earthly treasure. They make demands on our lives.

Homer and Langley Collyer had a house full of stuff that controlled their lives. In their case, their earthly possessions literally took their lives.

Do the things you own control you? Do you obsess over the things you wish you had? Stuff we own or want to own can quickly become our demanding master.

Thank God for the things you have. Ask Him to help you keep them in their proper place.

Wealth can be a blessing from God. It can also be a curse. The power we give it in our lives makes the difference!


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