In Jacob 2, the prophet Jacob is compelled by God to declare to the people that they are becoming more wicked and to deliver a warning to them. That warning, starting in verse 12, pertains to riches. Jacob condemns those who seek riches and then, as they obtain them more abundantly than others, establish a social hierarchy.
The signs: displays of wealth, costly apparel, and persecution of others because those with more wealth suppose that they are better than the others.
This supposition is not necessarily a blunt, broad, or overbearing one. It can also be subtle and done with a smile. Persecution can be done without hatred or ill-feeling towards the persecuted. Persecution can arise simply out of seeing other people as different and deciding that their social position or legal equality should therefore be different. Statements defending persecution often include comments on how we can’t expect “those people” to behave, act, or decide properly about certain things. Because of those statements, “those people” find themselves walled off from equality by people who believe that money makes someone more important.
Persecution, whether it’s done by someone who expresses open hatred or by someone who protests that they’re “the least racist person”, is condemned by God. God’s judgments for persecutors are promised, and speedily so.
Jacob’s message from God is direct and piercing: “Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they bay be rich like unto you.” Seeking riches in and of themselves is no crime, provided one seeks God first and then seeks the riches with the intent of doing good – to others! “To clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.” When one uses money for those purposes, there is no time nor desire for fine apparel or displays of wealth – and with none of those things, there is no persecution.
Jacob’s message is to see those with less wealth not as requiring different societal position, but as requiring the same love and compassion as any human desires or needs. Jacob closes his comments on the pride of riches with a comment that, “… the one being is as precious in His sight as the other.”