Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Man with the Hourglass Eyes

When I was in Jr. High, I read a fantasy series where one of the main characters was cursed by the gods with pupils that looked like hourglasses. When he looked upon anything all he could see was how it would rot and decay. All beauty was lost to him. Majestic forests looked like scorched earth and attractive women like rotting corpses. The only beauty he saw was in the faces of eternal beings. They never aged or decayed so the curse could not affect what he saw.

I am reminded of this character when I read James 5:1-6. It starts with weep and howl which is James showing us he is going to be speaking in line with the prophets of old. He tells the rich that they are to weep at their state. You see, their riches have rotted and their garments are moth eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted... they will eat your flesh like fire. Notice that James is not warning them of what will happen, he is showing them what has happened. It turns out that the rich people have been screwing their workers out of pay which is hard for us to understand in some ways. These guys were paid daily so that they could buy food for that day. When you don't pay a man his daily wage you are telling him his family must starve. Other writings from the same time period equate not paying a man on time is akin to murder. These guys were starving out families so they could live on the earth in luxury. They have stored up treasure in the last days.

When James looked at the situation he didn't see people he was envious of. He didn't see people eating good food and living nice, easy lives. He saw these guys as they truly were: in the midst of the flames, watching their skin be eaten off by the rust of their riches. James had an eternal perspective, which is good, because it wasn't too much later before he was thrown off a large city wall and killed. James was not confused by the seeming luxury of this world. He knew it was all going to pass away.

The gods of success, fame and riches call to us all. We tell ourselves "if I only had ___, then I would be content." Or maybe you are a little more greedy and you consider it ok to withhold good from someone else to get what you want? If this is what we chase after, then we need look no further to see what our future looks like.

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