Look here, you rich people, weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. – James 5:1-2
A few weeks ago, I took two suits to the cleaners. Even though I haven’t bought a new suit in a few years, I bought good suits that were fashionable without being faddish. They may never be totally “in” style, but they are never really out of style. Like the navy blue blazer I bought. It isn’t the newest thing you’d see in GQ magazine, but it is an acceptable jacket for most occasions.
When I got home with the clean suits, I noticed that one of the jackets had moth holes in the back, and that really disappointed me. You know the feeling when you’ve lost something of value and there is nobody to blame but yourself? That was the feeling I had. It is (or was) a nice suit, and because I neglected to take proper care of it, I feel I’ve wasted a couple of hundred dollars on a jacket I cannot wear. And, because I believe the money I spend is actually God’s money (1 Chronicles 29:14), then I felt I wasted His money, too.
Fast-forward to last Wednesday night. I’m humming along teaching out of James and we get to chapter five. As I read this passage it occurs to me – I’m so rich I have fine clothes that are now moth-eaten rags rotting in my closet! Yeah, that hurt.
Was it just a coincidence that I noticed the moth-eaten suit about the time we started teaching James 5? Maybe. Or, maybe God is trying to teach me something. Maybe He’s trying to teach me just how rich I am. I know that if I make $25,000 a year I’m in the top 10% of the world’s richest people, and if I make $50,000 a year I’m in the top 1%. Even though I’m somewhere in the middle of those two, I’m still very rich.
But I think God is trying to tell me something more. I believe He’s telling me to be aware of what I have. Although I knew that suit was in the closet, I was treating it as if I wasn’t conscious it was there. I’ve stored clothes in boxes because I didn’t have room in my closet. How many times have I bought more glue, or tape or car washing soap because although I just I KNEW I had some, I didn’t know where I put it? I mean, have you seen all the stuff I have stored in the garage?
Take it one step further. Are any of my relationships full of holes? Am I maintaining my friendships, or am I allowing little things to get into the middle of my relationships and eat tiny holes in the fabric that holds us together? Maybe I’ve got too many “friends” and its time to cut back on those I think must be in my life in order to make me feel significant. I think it’s amusing that Facebook calls all those people on my page “friends,” when in fact most of them are nothing more than acquaintances, or even acquaintances of acquaintances. Nobody really has 3,283 friends.
I do know that I’m stuffed with stuff, and after reading James 5:1-2 it is easier to resist buying something I want but don’t really need. I want those new sunglasses, even though the scratched pair I have now works fine. I want the new Kindle, but I haven’t read all the books on my shelves now. I’d like that new tennis racquet, but I already hit poorly enough with the three racquets I own. I’m guess I’m more aware of spending God’s money on things that might only go to waste – especially if it’s a new suit.
I understand the message, but its nice to have the Ability to go buy what you want. And that is what you should be thankful for. With God’s hand guiding your way and the hard work from your back, you are able to not only serve God, but do his will. Along the way you are blessed with the Ability to do things… if you chose…
Most people say that money makes life easier…
but in reality it just brings more problems… as your income increases your standard of living increases… very few people are able to live humbly and be even moderately wealthy… I know I couldn’t… and that’s something we all share as imperfect people.
I love it when the Scriptures come to life.. just don’t want them pointing at ME! 😉
I understand completely. That’s why I call them, “Scriptures That Bother Me,” because they’re ALWAYS pointing at me.