Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Word for Wednesday, September 23 Edition

Continuing in James chapter 1, commencing with verse 5:
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
I think what James says here is that God will give me wisdom, if and only if my intention is to use it to obey Him. If I'm just out to satisfy my idle curiosity, or to become a smarter and more efficient evildoer, I'm out of luck. Likewise, if I'm simply vacillating between commitment to God's purposes and, well, anything else.
But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position; and let the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like the flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind, and withers the grass; and its flower falls off, and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.
Here's an echo of Jesus's words, quoted at the end of Matthew 19: And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, shall receive twenty times as much, and shall inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last; and the last, first." It's a unifying theme in Christianity -- this inversion or reversal of what seems to be the normal order of things. The sinless one dies to buy the pardon of ... well, me. Whoever would be great must seek to be least, the servant of all. Wash each others' feet. Whoever tries to save his life will lose it; whoever submits his natural self to death receives everlasting life. In this writing of James is advice for the reasonable rich man: understand that your comforts and advantages are temporary, and accept -- even rejoice in -- that fact.

Good stuff.

For more Words for Wednesday, click here.

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