The Worth Of
The Vanity Of Earth
Studying the book of James, has blessed my life. Its practical nature is so enlightening, with life-changing nuggets of knowledge at every turn. The book covers such a wide range of issues that it is difficult to cite an overall theme. However, over and over, with his inspired pen, James seems to be emphatically declaring the eternal worth of heaven and spiritual things, and the worthlessness of earthly things.
James contrasts the worldly minded prayer and the prayer from a spiritual mind. In chapter one, he warns against doubt in our prayers, saying, “For that person [who doubts] must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord” (1:7). And in (4:3) he explains that some pray to God in vain because their requests are motivated by their own lusts and pleasures. These are contrasted with the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man.” The prayer of this spiritually minded person “avails much” ().
James also illustrates the vast inferiority of worldly wisdom to heavenly wisdom. Earthly wisdom involves jealousy, strife, and lies (3:14), while the wisdom from above is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (3:17). How foolish we are when we trust in the “wisdom” of the world!
One part of earthly wisdom that James further explains is the partiality that humans sometimes show. He describes two men entering an assembly: one poor, and one rich (2:2-4). We often see things as they appear in this world, but our task as Christians is to view them in a more heavenly way. You see, in God’s eyes, earthly differences (poor/rich; black/white; etc.) are completely void of any importance! The only reason that our physical lives are important is that in them, we decide whether to seek God or the world.
James shows that the contrast between the heavenly and the earthly is so great, even the troubles in life can be full of spiritual blessings. Troubles can bring us joy (1:2), for, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life” (). So, please, trust in the Lord and seek heaven, not the earth!