Formations lesson for May 26: Rotten Riches?
May 10 2002 by Haven Parrott , James 5:1-6

Formations lesson for May 26: Rotten Riches? | Friday, May 10, 2002

Friday, May 10, 2002

Formations lesson for May 26: Rotten Riches?

By Haven Parrott James 5:1-6

This is not a pretty passage. It's a putrid picture of corruption, condemnation, waste and ruin, and flesh being eaten by fire the way that rust eats metal. Brother James was certainly no spin-doctor ... he was an in-your-face truth-teller. Using his pen as a bow, James launched arrow-sharp words that penetrated their target dead center.

The message is as unpopular now as it was two millennia ago and every bit as true: eternal suffering and shrieking awaits those who choose to enthrone self, instead of Christ. When self is god, self-indulgence is the goal ... and that can get ugly, even gross.

Tradition has it that Nero, who was notoriously and excessively egocentric, had a hole in the middle of his banquet hall so that when he and his guests glutted themselves on sumptuous fare until they could hold no more, they'd have a place to vomit. Then they'd head back to the tables for more.

Indeed, "more" is the mantra of the self-indulgent. The irony is that, inevitably, when self is crowned as king, self must also become the slave that serves self. The king finds himself fettered to himself: an insatiable tyrant who makes incessant demands ... more, more, more!

When assets become liabilities It would be easy for me to get a little uppity in my comments regarding this passage, for I'm neither rich nor unbelieving. I do not see myself, at first glance, in this mirror. If pastor James were to deliver this scathing sermon at my church, my impulse would be to applaud and agree: "Amen! Tell it, preacher!"

But I must allow the two-edge sword to expose my hypocrisy from deep within me, like some tribal drumbeat that is felt more than heard. I detect a throbbing chant: "more, more, more!"

Alas, two natures share my skinsuit, and one of them is extremely tempted by the temporal. Though I am far richer in grace than in goods, I know well the greed for all that glitters. I am often consumed by what is comfortable and convenient, rather than by that which should characterize a cross-bearer. I have lusted over the lure of finer things, of riches that rot, of assets that become liabilities. I try to walk by faith, but I often stumble - not over what I can't see, but over what I can.

Too often I have allowed the sights of this world to blind me to the glorious realities that are visible only through the eyes of faith.

You'd think that someone who has access to infinite stores of grace wouldn't be tempted by the tacky baubles of earth. You'd think that, except you know better.

Perhaps you too are plagued, not by the intention but by the inclination, to glorify self instead of the Savior.

Oh, thank God for the precision of His word and the provision of His grace!

Thank God for His Spirit, who nudges us toward surrender!

Thank God for His promise that we will one day be pure, and for loving us in the meantime!

Lord, I'm so thankful for Your precious, awesome Word And how it renews my mind With the truth about the me that I'm someday gonna be ... A needed word, indeed, for this saint stranded-in-time. A word that helps me deal with the me that I am While caught between Your cross and my crown - Beached on flesh island in the middle of spirit sea, Watching and waiting for Easter Saturday's sun to go down. Your word reminds this immortal soul, caged in flesh, Of the tension between faith and sight ... Indwelt by Your Comforter, though often uncomfortably, Trapped in groaning grayness now, but blessedly assured of coming Light.

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5/10/2002 12:00:00 AM by Haven Parrott , James 5:1-6 | with 0 comments
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