In 5:4-6, James addressed three sins that are often related to materialism: injustice, selfishness, and murder. "Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you."
In the first century, and still today, there are those who get rich by cheating others out of what is rightfully theirs (cf. verse 4). Although a person might get away with injustice here on Earth, he needs to realize that Almighty God hears the cries for justice from those who can't defend themselves. The Lord of hosts is mighty, powerful, and full of glory. All injustices are only temporary! That should be comforting to faithful Christians.
In verse 5, James mentioned another sin that is related to materialism: selfishness. I'm sorry to say it, but many in the world today (and even some in the church) are afflicted with this sin. The good life is a life of self-indulgence, in the thinking of many. How often do people ignore the needs of others so they can gratify their own wants? Living in this manner is utter foolishness. Pigs are fed and fattened up for butchering; they're given all they can eat. Some humans are the same way. They work so hard just to satisfy every physical desire they can imagine. They too are fattening themselves up, though they do not realize the slaughter is coming! Pigs are stupid animals; they eat and eat and eat and it eventually costs them their lives. Many humans are the same way; they indulge their selfishness continually, not realizing that it will eventually cost them their souls!
In verse 6, James mentioned a third sin sometimes related to materialism: murder. Now granted, murder happens a lot less frequently than injustice and selfishness, but nevertheless, it still happens every day in this world. How tragic!
Friends, look at your own heart. Is your soul afflicted with any of these sins? Are you just in your dealings with others or do you cheat them or harm them physically? Are you living for the Lord or for yourself? Unfortunately, most people will choose to be selfish rather than spiritually-minded, kind, and loving.
If the thoughts we've shared from the first six verses in James 5 have pricked your conscience, then I urge you to repent! Turn from your sins and live for God. It is not too late to escape the judgment that God has in store for the wicked rich!