God will punish people that cheat to make themselves rich
1 Now I’m talking to you rich people, so you listen to me. You are going to get big trouble, so you can start right now to cry and be really sad.
2-3 All your money and clothes, and those things you got for yourself, will all become useless. They will rot away. Or they will rust away. Or white ants will eat them. God will see that rusty rotten mess and he will say that you are too greedy, and he will give you big trouble. He will punish you with big trouble, like a fire that will burn up your body. You thought you could keep all that stuff for a long time, but you will not have it for very long.
4 You cheated to get that money. You got men to work on your farm and they cut down the food crop that grew there and brought all that food to you. But you didn’t pay them for that work. You sent them away with no pay. Then they cried about it and our God heard them. He is very strong, and he can see that you cheated them. God can see their money. It is still in your pocket. So God will make big trouble for you.
5-6 While you lived here on this earth you killed good people that couldn’t fight back. You lied and said they were guilty and then you killed them. While you were doing that you got everything you wanted and had plenty to eat. You are fat now, but look out. God will kill you. Think about a farmer and his cow. He feeds that cow a lot of grass and makes it fat, then he kills it to get some meat. Well that is a picture of you. You are fat now, but God will kill you.
Christians, don’t give up
7-8 Now I’m talking to you Christian people. You have to wait for our leader, Jesus, to come back, and not give up. Think about farmers. They are happy to wait. They plant their food crops and then just wait for the rain to come and make the plants grow, so that in the end the farmers will get lots of food from those plants. Well, you have to be happy to wait, like they do. Don’t give up. Our leader, Jesus, will come back soon.
9 My friends, don’t growl about each other, or God will judge you and say that you are wrong. He is the big judge and he is coming back soon. He is nearly here already.
10 My friends, remember the stories from a long time ago. Think about the men that told God’s word to people. They kept going, even if people didn’t believe them and gave them a lot of trouble.
11 They didn’t give up, so now we respect them and say they were good men. Do you remember the story about Job? The devil gave him a lot of trouble, but he stayed true to God, and in the end God made everything good for him. So we know that God is always sorry for his people when they get trouble, and he is very good to them.
12 And another thing I want to say is very important, my friends. Whenever you tell somebody something you have to tell the true story. Say “Yes” or “No,” whichever is right. Don’t say, “God is watching us and he knows that this is true.” No. Don’t use God’s name, or any other name. Just say the true word and say no more, or you might go wrong, and then God will tell you that you are guilty.
This is the way to pray
13 Have any of you got trouble? You have to keep on praying about it. And are any of you happy? You can sing to God to say thank you to him, and tell everybody that God is really good.
14 Are any of you sick? You have to ask the leaders of the church to come to you and pray for you. They can put some olive oil on you while they pray. Jesus says they can do this, so they can say his name while they pray for you.
15 Whenever somebody prays and really trusts God to make a sick person better, God will do like that one asks. Jesus, our leader, will make that sick person good again. And if they did something wrong and got sick from that, God will not blame them for that any more.
16 So whenever you go wrong and do bad things, don’t try to say that you are still good. No. Tell each other the true story about the bad things that you did. Then you can pray for each other so that God can make you right again. Whenever a good man prays to God about something, then God uses his power and does whatever that good man asks for.
17 Do you remember the story about Elijah? He was just a normal man like us but he prayed and asked God to stop the rain, and then it didn’t rain at all for 3½ years.
18 Then Elijah asked God to send rain again and a lot of rain came down, then the food plants started to grow again.
19-20 Listen, my friends, suppose one of you starts forget about God’s true words and goes the wrong way, and suppose somebody else talks to him and gets him to come back to the right way, then God will go easy on the one that went wrong. He will not die, and God will not punish him for the many bad things that he did. You see, the one that steers him back does a lot of good. So that is the sort of thing you have to do.