James 5:1–6—Are riches a blessing or a curse?

Problem: Solomon lauded riches as a blessing from God, saying, “In the house of the righteous there is much treasure” (Prov. 15:6; cf. Ps. 112:3). However, James warned the rich to “weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you!” (5:1). Which is it?

Solution: The texts that speak about God blessing the righteous with riches refer to the general promise of God to supply the needs of those who live righteous lives. Exceptions to this establish the general rule, not diminish it. The passages that warn of the woes of wealth are written to those who idolize it, setting affection on it rather than on God (cf. also Luke 12:21). Both are true and complementary.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.