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Read Introduction to James


“You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.”


The scene now changes from the wages for working in the harvest fields to wealthy landowners’ social lives. These business people live lives of luxury and self-indulgence. 

You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury;

Two words explain the wealthy landowners’ motives of verse four: 1) pleasure and 2) luxury. “Pleasure” carries the idea of wanton pleasure. Instead of giving the harvest workers their due wage, these landowners lavishly spent the money on themselves. This is the sin of extravagance at the expense of others. These people have little discipline in their spending habits. They would rather spend their money on a high style of life for themselves than justly paying their employees. They live to indulge themselves. 

The word “luxury” means to lead a soft life. The idea is a voluptuous and wanton lifestyle. The New Testament uses this word only here and 1 Timothy 5:6. The idea is the pursuit of pleasure and debauchery. The idea involves carousing and painting the town red. Satisfying insatiable desire is unadulterated greed. Spirituality requires self-denial for the needs of others. 

Their pleasure and luxury were at the expense of their workers. They live as if there is no eternity; they live only for a time. They think that luxury and self-indulgence will give them happiness. 

you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter

Animals fated for the slaughter was a common image to the Jew. A greedy heart that cares only for acquisitions prepares itself for the day of God’s reckoning as sacrificial animals are prepared for sacrifice. Self-indulgence is a subject of God’s quick justice. Pleasure is one thing, but self-indulgence is another. Self-indulgent people live for a time, not eternity.

A cow fattened for slaughter eats to her heart’s content, oblivious that she will be slaughtered in the end. Greedy people fatten themselves with wealth, not knowing that they are like animals fattened for the kill. 


Those who live in self-indulgence lose their perspective on eternal values.


If we chose to live a life of self-indulgence, we lose our perspective on eternal values. Some of us are so pleasure mad that we rarely think of eternity. 

Ecclesiastes 2:4-11, “I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. 5 I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove. 7 I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds.

9 So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.

10 Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.

I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,

For my heart rejoiced in all my labor;

And this was my reward from all my labor.

11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done

And on the labor in which I had toiled;

And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.

There was no profit under the sun.”

The love of money and self-indulgence operate as a tandem. We can enjoy our possessions if we understand the purpose of our possessions. 

2 Ti 3:1-5, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”