Monday, October 20, 2008

Rich Lessons

I was struck by James 5 in my Bible reading last week especially given the financial turmoil that is occurring all across the world right now. I quote from The Message Bible:

1-3 And a final word to you arrogant rich: Take some lessons in lament. You'll need buckets for the tears when the crash comes upon you. Your money is corrupt and your fine clothes stink. Your greedy luxuries are a cancer in your gut, destroying your life from within. You thought you were piling up wealth. What you've piled up is judgment.

4-6All the workers you've exploited and cheated cry out for judgment. The groans of the workers you used and abused are a roar in the ears of the Master Avenger. You've looted the earth and lived it up. But all you'll have to show for it is a fatter than usual corpse. In fact, what you've done is condemn and murder perfectly good persons, who stand there and take it.
What struck me most about the passage I think was the description of the "rich" as being those whose greatest treasure is material wealth and how everything else is diminished in its favor. In order to gain just a bit more wealth the "rich" withhold pay from those who rightfully earned it.

This was written nearly two thousand years ago in a markedly different culture and time. Yet we see from recent events that it is just as valid now as it was when it was first penned.

And there are buckets of tears right now.

This passage is followed by several exhortations to the followers of Christ. One in particular again struck a chord with me:
That's because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.

12And since you know that he cares, let your language show it. Don't add words like "I swear to God" to your own words. Don't show your impatience by concocting oaths to hurry up God. Just say yes or no. Just say what is true. That way, your language can't be used against you.
In the context it seems to me that this is an exhortation for us to remember our limitations when it comes to our future plans. Surely there are things we do control in our lives. But as we've seen in recent days we do not control very much at all really. It does not mean we should not plan nor does it mean we should not commit to do things.

I like to plan and make spreadsheets and try to anticipate different future scenarios. And when I do I like to have fallback positions for my plans.

Really though there is only one fallback position that makes sense.

That is faith in Christ.

I once read somewhere the statement: "I do not know the future but I know the One Who holds it."

That's more than enough.

1 comment:

Lori1955 said...

I have been thinking about your post all day. Considering what is happening in this country, those passages could have been written this past month. It is really strange how something written so long ago could be so relevant today.

Abraham Lincoln once said that if this country were to be destroyed that it should come from within. Well I guess old Abe would be proud of us because we are sure doing a good job of destroying America.

I have stopped worrying about the future. I'm not sure if it's apathy or surrender. Perhaps there are things I should be doing right now to secure my future but I really feel that it is out of my hands.

"I do not know the future but I know the One Who holds it." I really like that quote. There is peace in that.