Jesus Loves Me, Now Give Me Stuff
James 1:9-11 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
James is my favorite book so I do not want to screw it up. James however, did write some parts that I would like to skip. Today’s passage is one of those inconvenient truths that I would prefer just to pass by.
Here, James insists that our stuff often distracts from that which is truly important. We often see money and possessions as God’s blessings. Of course, we should thank God for food, shelter and clothing, but James warns that we have got it wrong when we equate material success with spiritual success.
In reality it is often our success and stuff that distracts us from pursuing God. Viewed in this paradoxical light, wealth and possessions can actually be a curse if they keep us from God. Trials and need, which we try to avoid, often push us towards God and thus, may be seen as the true blessing.
It is our desperate need that makes us desperate for God. Everyone needs God. Not everyone sees it. The beautiful, successful, and self-sufficient often just don’t see their need. If I am prosperous, I can sit in church on Sunday morning and in my blindness will be worse off than the man sitting in prison who desperately understands his need for God. If I have everything I need, I just don’t need God.
I do not think that James is saying that all possessions are evil. I do think he is trying to get us to understand that the temporal often distracts from the eternal. Beauty fades and is a vain pursuit. Success as we see it is often actually not a blessing but a curse. Likewise, those we consider unfortunate or cursed may actually be ahead in the end. Sometimes, those who are going through difficult times may be the ones who grow their faith the most.
I am not suggesting that I am thankful for the destruction that I caused. I am however, profoundly thankful for where God has brought me through that destruction. If I had remained secure in my own success, I would never have come to know God the way I do now. It was through my tragic need that I sought God most desperately.
Without that need, I would not have come to the point where I seek God daily. I would not pursue God and I would never write this blog. Without my obvious need, I would have remained ignorant of the reality that I was being crushed under the curse of my own success.
We all need God. We are however, often blinded by our own success. I do not want to be the man who while rich in possessions, fades away in the midst of his pursuits. I want to be rich in God.