Monday, November 21, 2011

The Means and End - Considering the purpose of our efforts.

A short while ago, I wrote about how people either secretly or unknowingly try to worship idols alongside God. You know, just in case He doesn't answer our prayers the way we want or expect. This morning, I realized I had only addressed the means in that post, but not the end.

The end of James 4 and beginning of James 5 address the attitude of both means and end. James 4:13-16 focuses on the means. "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.' But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil."

We can make plans and never even consider asking God what steps to take. All of our experience and education can flop in a moment, but we still trust our brilliance. I never thought about it like this before, but is it godless when God's not in it?

James 5:1-3 confronts the ends with a heavy hand. "Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!"

Why do we want money, success, comfort? Do we want to have more to give back to God and bless other people? Do we want a nice home so we can show hospitality to more people? Or have we fallen into America's Biggest Religion and simply want to satisfy ourselves? "Come now, come now," says James, "Consider the purpose of your efforts."

So I wonder, what does it look like for someone to keep God at the center of both the means and end of something like a business, a home, a relationship, or a church? Anything, really.

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