Friday, June 24, 2011

Rich and Poor

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

James 1:9-11

But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Matthew 19: 30

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Luke 14:11

There are many different ways in which it is possible to be rich or poor. I would argue that each of us reading this right now probably has areas of their life in which they could be classified as rich and also areas in which they could be classified as poor. Where do you feel like a success? Where do you feel like a failure? What is easy for you and what is hard? Is there an area of your life in which you are jealous of other people? What about one in which those same people might be jealous of you (think about it! it's more likely than it sounds!)?

I've certainly felt the oddity of that dichotomy in my life. My own strengths and weaknesses, wholenesses and brokennesses, are often frustrating for me--on both sides! I was recently re-reading A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and was struck by Sara's insistence (in the early stage of the book when she is ridiculously fortunate in many ways) that it was only "an accident" that she was what she was instead of being a poor ignorant hungry scullery-maid. That is a little what I have always thought about the way succeeding in some ways and areas of my life has been for me. Why this for me and yet not for someone else?

Unfortunately, I've tended to focus far more on the things that I perceive as my failures. Especially when I see other people succeeding in that same area. (Forgive me . . .) I sit and look at where I am like I'm down in some little hole while "they" are over there mountain climbing . . . and it didn't occur to me at all that some of the same people that I feel that sinful jealousy of might also have the temptation to be jealous of me, but after actually talking with some of those folks and thinking I realize that that can happen!

I've only recently (well, a few weeks ago now) come to think of all the mountains being brought low and the valleys brought high kinds of imagery in Scripture relative to this set of failures and successes. And the directives to glory in the humiliation of one's "rich" areas while glorying in the exaltation of one's "poor" areas . . . I think what that means for me right now is looking at where I am rich, acknowledging it, even being thankful for it, but mostly realizing how very tiny and unimportant and PASSING it is compared to God. And then looking at everything that I have felt discontented with my position--with what I've been unable to do--with what I don't have--and glorying in God's ability and desire and plan to exalt those humble things, if not now, then in the end.

For knowledge will pass away, and ability will pass away, even disappointment will pass away, but love will never cease, and God will never change.

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