(Part 4 in 4 part series)
“You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.”
As we learned last week, the unhealthy pursuit of mammon (possessions) can lead to hoarding and dishonest gain, this week we will see how it leads to the pursuit of self-indulgence and the unfair treatment of others.
James cautioned those people who were living in self-indulgence and pursing lives of luxury that this type of behavior would ultimately lead to judgment. As James describes it; they were fattening themselves for the day of slaughter. The imagery is vivid. Instantly what comes to my mind is a pig trough. When the farmer comes and pours in the slop, the herd of pigs descends on the trough and eagerly pursues what they want. There is no consideration of others. It is get all you can as fast as you can. Ironically the more they devour the larger they become expediting their day of disaster.
I am constantly taken aback by what people consider needs! I watch television shows about couples with no children looking for their first homes and hear them say things like… “We NEED at least four bedrooms, three baths, a large backyard, modern kitchen, and finished basement.” I listen with concern as grown adults talk about their NEED to upgrade their smart phone for the fourth time in three years. We are constantly attempting to redefine what a NEED is because we live in a culture that is no longer satisfied with having what we need. The fattening we are experiencing that will ultimately lead to our destruction is not simply the materialism that permeates our lives, but the tremendous debt we must accrue in order to have it. Most people cannot afford to live at the level of luxury that they desire, so we have manufactured a culture that allows us to live beyond our means in self-indulgence and luxury. Ultimately, the more we devour, the more indebted we become expediting our day of disaster!
Here is the litmus test to determine if you are at all bound by wealth:
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing we will be content with that.”
1 Timothy 6:6-8
Could you be content with just having food and clothing? I recently challenged our congregation with this passage of scripture:
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
My challenge was this, if we truly believe that God will help us and keep us in times of need then for thirty days do not buy anything new and absolutely don’t take on any debt. That meant no new clothes, phones, electronics, cars, appliances and the like. If something breaks down and you can’t pay cash to replace it, then figure out how to manage without it until the 30 days are up. One family had a washing machine break down and she used the laundry mat until the 30 days were up! Some folks wouldn’t even try, because they knew they would never make it. Some lasted a couple days, and some made it the whole thirty days. In all it was a success, because it caused everyone to think about their need for possession and who really possessed who?
Pastor Scott Burr