A Warning to Rich Oppressors and the Call to Patience
With two weeks to go in our journey through the Book of James my heart feels free. James seems to be a realist. He says it like it is. He flips power struggles on their head and points us to Jesus and the wisdom of God. When tackling issues of selfish ambition and pride that play out in the ways of envy, jealousy, fighting, blaming, finger pointing, judging one another, he brings us back to humility and the wisdom of God. And this brings freedom.
Dallas Willard in his book, Renovation of the Heart, has two chapters back to back called Radical Evil in the Ruined Soul and Radical Goodness Restored to the Soul. Willard points out that the ruined soul must be willing to hear of and recognize its own ruin before it can find another path. This realization is what he calls an ‘insult to our pride.’ When it comes to our selfish pride, we must lose it. And James points us to a better way – the only way, the Jesus way.
Once we release our grip on the control of our lives and the desire to control the lives of others and surrender ourselves to God’s grip on our lives our tendencies to anger, unforgiveness, retaliation, oppression of others, for example, will fade. Sounds like freedom.
This Sunday, James addresses an abuse going on in the early church: the rich lording over the poor. Then he immediately returns to a theme found at the very beginning of the book: patience. James once again goes after the Radical Evil in the Ruined Soul and points us towards the Radical Goodness Restored to the Soul. In the name of Jesus.
Lord willing, a message will be given this Sunday on James 5:1-11, A Warning to Rich Oppressors and the Call to Patience.
To God be the Glory,
PS – Last week I summarized the book of Ecclesiastes in a paragraph (less than 3 minutes). Here it is… (Ch 1) “Meaningless… meaningless – utterly meaningless… What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? The wind blows… plant life grows… streams flow… generations come and go… (ch 2) Without God who can find meaning, enjoyment, satisfaction? (ch 3-4) It, whatever ‘it’ is, will never be enough, will never satisfy. (ch 5) God is in heaven and you are on earth – so let your words be few. (ch 6) Contentment is a gift from God. (ch 7,8,9) Enjoy life with your wife… always do what is right… whatever you do with the work of your hands do with all your might… for no one knows when light will turn to night. (ch 10,11) Faithfully cast your bread upon the water and blessing will come back to you on every wave. (Ch 12) As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the workings of God – so humble yourselves before God and he will lift you up. Fear God. And we know from Proverbs, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”