Michael was a successful businessman who worked for a large corporation. He lived in a huge mansion with a four-car garage in a gated community. He had attended several prestigious universities, attaining the necessary degrees to promote him to a high position at his company. He had risen to an upper-level management position quickly and had a huge office. Michael made over seven figures each year in salary, not including an annual bonus. He was living the good life. Every day, Michael’s driver would pick him up from his mansion and drive him to work. When the driver would get off the exit, the car would pass a poorer neighborhood. Michael would often see people on the streets that looked as if they were homeless and suffering from different addictions. One day as the car was approaching the office, Michael saw a younger mother trying to walk her children to school. He saw that she was struggling to manage pushing a stroller and tend to two smaller children. Yet, he chose to ignore her and instructed the driver to proceed.
God invites us to participate in ending the injustices that oppress other humans.
Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came! Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines: be they better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border? Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near; That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David; That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed. The Lord God hath sworn by himself, saith the Lord the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein. (Amos 6:4-8)
The rich leaders of Samaria completely turn all of their attention to their material wealth. They are consumed with a lifestyle that is rich, elegant, exquisite, lavish, and excessive. They are only concerned with a higher standard of living that requires the finest and best. From dining selections, fine clothing, wild parties, extravagant celebrations, grand mansions, and expensive skin creams, the influential people of Israel are accustomed to a lifestyle that only served an elite class. Their lifestyle causes them to lose focus on real-life issues around them. They are blind to the fact that as the elite become richer, the poor become poorer. Often when we experience an increase of wealth, we forget about God and the plight of others. The elite of Israel had only used their wealth for selfish and luxurious needs, forsaking those who were suffering among them. Amos declares an oath from the Sovereign Lord that God is angry at their conceited and arrogant way of living. God holds the wealthy accountable for the use of their resources and whether they use it for the blessing of others instead of selfishness.
In many places around the world, people are living in underserved and impoverished areas. They are suffering from lack of clean water, fresh produce, safe living conditions, and other resources that affect their everyday lives. There is not an equal distribution of wealth in our world. The powerful will continue to get rich, while the poor and working class will continue to suffer. The issue with wealth that is mentioned in this text is not the possession of wealth, but the dangers of being selfish, prideful, and sinful in the ways we use it. If we choose to ignore the injustices of the poor and needy, then we are at risk of God’s punishment.
We are tempted to ignore injustice when we are wealthy and comfortable. To combat this tendency, we can show solidarity with those who are disadvantaged. Make a commitment to serve and befriend those who are poor or those who are in need of justice today.
For more relevant Biblical content like this check out our Precepts For Living Commentary.