Do you ever find yourself reading through a certain passage in Scripture and suddenly you begin to squirm? You know, that uncomfortable feeling that conviction brings that prohibits you from continuing on in the same way? In a moment, your eyes are opened to the reality of sin in your life, and perhaps for the first time, you see that sin as God sees it. And you’re convicted about it. As uncomfortable as conviction can be, I will gladly welcome it into my life when it comes from God’s Word, because not only is there no condemnation found there, but also because regular conviction means that I’m in His Word, and I’m allowing His Word to change me. Join me today on the pages of James chapter 5, and let a fresh wave of conviction fall on you…if the shoe fits.
We’ve all heard the staggering statistics, and at first they were just that to our hearts…staggering. The amount of people in our world today living in utter poverty while we live in extreme abundance and sometimes over-indulgence breaks our hearts. Yet, at some point, the conviction wears off as we distance ourselves further from the reality of the hurting, the hopeless, and the broken. Their cries for help and their demands for justice are continually silenced by our ever-increasing “wants”. We move up a tax bracket, and all of a sudden we are entitled to more. We want, and we crave, and we envy what others have that we so much desire to call our own, and this self-indulgence has literally made our hearts and our souls sick. When we come to a point in our lives that we want what we want more than we desire to feed the hungry and to clothe the naked and to set the oppressed free, we are treading on dangerous ground.
So, the question begs to be asked – “Am I a greedy person?” Some of you at this point might be shouting in defense, “But I do care about the poor and the needy! My heart breaks for them.” And James would respond to both you and I with all love and truth, “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is DEAD and USELESS.” (NLT – emphasis added) A heart that is tender for the things that break God’s heart is a good thing, but it just cannot end there, because if it does, the Bible defines our “faith” as dead and useless. The book of James warns us throughout of the folly of the pursuit of riches and wealth, knowing that greed can take over a heart just as fast as the most addictive drug. His word to us today is to beware of the folly of greed. It will not only destroy us, but it will inhibit us from helping others. The more we want for ourselves, the less we will want for others. Are you a greedy person? Or do you freely give of all that Christ has given you? In our upper-middle class, American culture, we need a serious check-up in this area of greed. Perhaps you and I both need to come before the throne of grace today in repentance, asking the Lord to remove greed from our hearts so that generosity can readily flow. And may we both be found in humility and awe of an awesome God, trembling at His Word, and shuddering at the reality of our capacity to choose sin over His grace.