The Overweight Marathon
You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. James 5:5
I’ve got this hard-to-believe old photo of me running a marathon that I’ve used for the blog previously. I’ll try to include the picture in the email version of today’s blog because it tells a significant story. Years ago, I ran marathons, just to prove to myself that I could do it. In my drug addiction though, all my other flaws were magnified as well, including my gluttony.
I’d sign up for a marathon nine months in the future, which was plenty of time to lose thirty pounds, but then I’d spend the next eight months eating whatever I wanted. As the day approached and I realized how overweight I was, I’d look back, cursing my overindulgence. The immediate gratification of eating junk food was fleeting, always leaving me with a painful price to pay later. On race day, that price came due as I suffered the consequences of pursuing my now-appetite above all. That was one overweight, miserable marathon.
This is similar to the illustration that James used in today’s passage. In it, he pointed a finger at those in his audience who’d lived a life of wealth and greed, comparing them to livestock who’d fattened themselves up for their own day of slaughter. He spoke of money and possessions as just one more way in which we seek immediate gratification, which always leaves some terrible price to pay later. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire (James 5:3).
James didn’t say that having money was evil. He did, however, point out the inherent flaw of seeking our joy, purpose, and meaning in wealth. Just like any other short-term gratification, the satisfaction of money and toys is fleeting, always leaving some emptiness and misery afterwards. Greed is simply an addiction to money, but unfortunately, this obsession is much more acceptable and far more common than any drug addiction.
If we were struggling with drugs or alcohol, most of us would try to hide that. Money and toys though, are a normal obsession, one that we might even post about on social media. James however, said that there is no lasting joy in wealth and that in pursuing our meaning in our money, we’re simply fattening ourselves up for the day of our own slaughter.
I must regularly remind myself of this. My life-purpose cannot be to simply collect more money and stuff. Seeking my happiness in wealth is simply another self-destructive addiction – very much like preparing myself for that overweight, miserable marathon.
Surgery update: Postop day 3. Well, this isn’t super fun, but I know I’ll eventually be thankful that I did it. The swelling and pain are a little worse. I’m not sleeping great, but I’m still able to walk and I’m still opiate-free. I’ve had a lot of time to read and sit around, icing my knee. As it turns out, I’m not great at just sitting around, but I’m learning. Thankfully, my wife has been patient and willing to play nurse for me while I recover. Thanks Barbie!