"Come now, you rich! Weep and cry aloud over the miseries that are coming on you... Look, the pay you have held back from the workers who mowed your fields cries out against you, and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts." (James 5:1,4)
If you're reading this and you're from America, you are rich. You may have heard it before, but just so you don't think I'm bluffing, the United States of America tops all of the following lists:
- Average Year Round Equivalent Wages and Salaries
- Average Compensation Per Hour
- Disposable Household Income
On the flip side, the clothes that I'm wearing while I type this are made in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Vietnam, and Guatemala. The computer and accessories I'm using right now are made in China. Not one of these five countries made the above lists. What gives?
"Do not exploit a poor person because he is poor." (Proverbs 22:22). "Deliver those being taken away to death, and hold back those slipping to the slaughter. If you say, “But we did not know about this,” does not the one who evaluates hearts consider? Does not the one who guards your life know? Will he not repay each person according to his deeds?" (Proverbs 24:11-12)
Are we exploiting the poor in other countries? Are we holding back pay from those who, in a real sense, have worked for us? In many cases it is hard to truly know, but the glimpses we get from news articles seem to say by and large, we are. Some articles to get you thinking:
What does this all mean for me? It means I want to shop a little bit more like Jesus. To do so, my wife and I came up with a series of questions to ask ourselves:
Before you shop, ask yourself:
- Do I need it? Can I do without it? Do I already have it? If you answer these questions honestly, you won't have to answer the rest of this list as often as you think.
- Can I make it myself?
- Can I buy it used?
- Can I upgrade or repair something I own rather than buying it?
- Is it made in the USA or another developed country?
- Is it Fair Trade?
- Is it produced by a company that is at least claiming ethical labor and/or buying practices? Many companies make some sort of statement on their website.
- Is it produced by company that has known cases of unethical labor and/or buying practices? A few Google searches normally turns up any poor standards or practices.
- Is it quality? Will it last a long time or will you be buying another piece of junk in less than two years?
Ask yourself: What would Jesus buy?
Additional Scripture: Proverbs 21:3, 15; 22:16, 22-23; 24:11-12, 31:8-9, Zechariah 7:9-10, Romans 13:7, I Timothy 6:17-19, James 5:1-6