Thursday, January 10, 2013

What are you holding onto?

I’ve been doing the Beth Moore study on the book of James this year, and we are almost at the end. It has been an amazing, challenging study! As I was reading James 5 this past week, I was impressed by the harshness of the first few verses:

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.  Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.  Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. (James 5:1-3)

This particular passage is similar to a pronouncement of judgment from an Old Testament prophet like Isaiah. While James addresses his reading audience as “brothers” throughout the letter, here he is speaking to “you rich people” - and in the strongest terms. It seems that he is specifically writing to those who oppress others (verses 4-6), rather than to his “brothers.” However, the message is clear for all of us, and certainly these words parrot exactly what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:19-21 and in Luke 12:13-21. Don’t put your faith in things that don’t last! Quit holding onto those things that wear out! 

Beth Moore, in discussing these verses, focuses on the hoarding we do. Now, I am not someone who holds onto things to the extent that I would qualify for a reality show. I do have neighbors, however, who surely would. We have three-car garages, and some of them on my street are crammed from floor to ceiling with years of accumulated junk, so that there is no way even one car could fit in them. So, as I read the above verses in James, before I could go on a judging jag, the Lord brought me up short about my own attitudes!

I may not have boxes and boxes of “stuff” crammed into my garage just in case I might “someday” need something that’s in those boxes, BUT Don and I do have retirement money set aside in an annuity that is supposed to help see us through our remaining years. Now, I know that is the responsible thing to do, but I’ve been finding that I need to guard my heart when it comes to my attitude toward it. Am I “hoarding” it in my heart? I find myself sometimes worrying, “Will it be enough? Can we tap into it for vacations? Or should we leave it all untouched just is case???” See how that little trickle of worry could become a raging river?

We recently took out a chunk from it and set it into our bank account for some expenses we see coming up this year. The refrigerator is on its last legs, the water heater’s days are numbered, and the TV in the family room (an old behemoth of a thing) is ready to go, as well. So, we took a sum out of the annuity to help cover those costs, as well as just some living expenses since Don is retired. And right away, I could feel myself getting a bit worried. I’m having to remind myself that my future is in God’s hands! HE is where my security lies - not in a 401K or an annuity. The annuity is only as good as the company that holds it! But my eternity - my REAL future - is in God’s sovereign hands. And He loves me more than I can fathom.

So, what are you holding onto? Or what is holding onto you? Are you getting lost in piles of things in your closet or boxes stacked in your garage? While we hold onto these things that we will probably never use again, and which our children will have to deal with when we are gone (and they WILL be cursing us in that event), there ARE people who might make good use of these things. There are people all around us who would love some of our clothes, toys, and furniture. There are MANY who don’t have the luxury of planning a vacation somewhere who could use some of our hoarded wealth. It’s time to rethink our priorities and our giving. That’s what a new year is all about!

Back to Proverbs tomorrow!  

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