James’ condemnation lies with how the rich obtain and retain their riches – by withholding wages, hoarding their wealth, and condemning the righteous. Wealth is not simply a danger because it forms the basis of inequality, but wealth itself corrupts the human soul.
The one thread that holds this chpater together is that of humility. When we count others as better than ourselves then there is no room left for envy or jealousy, nor for slander or judgment, nor for total self-reliance.
The Christian life that James will describe in his letter begins with the recognition that a pervasive and all-encompassing joy is the essential characteristic of the Christian life despite what may come our way.