I hope this day finds you and your family well. I invite you to take a few moments with me to read and reflect upon today’s scripture selection — and to carry these thoughts with you into your day.
Today’s Scripture: James 1:2-12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
2 My brothers and sisters,(a) whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; 4 and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.
5 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. 6 But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; 7, 8 for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
9 Let the believer(b) who is lowly boast in being raised up, 10 and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.
12 Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord(c) has promised to those who love him.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
The New Testament Letter of James focuses on how we live out our faith. The relatively short letter is filled with instruction about putting faith into action and not just into words. Three sentences stand out in these verses from the first chapter of James in verse 5:
“If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given to you.”
“For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.”
“Blessed is anyone who endures temptation.”
These three seemingly unrelated sentences belong together. We need wisdom to know what is most important in life. That wisdom, lived out, will protect us from being so busy accumulating that we lose sight of what is most important and “wither away.” The temptation is ever-present to live as though possessions and busyness are the most important aspects of life. Blessed—abundantly happy—are those who don’t give in to that temptation.
There is an old story that illustrates this challenge:
A businessman visiting the pier of a coastal village noticed a small boat with just one fisherman pulling up to the dock. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. He complimented the fisherman on the fish and asked how long it took to catch them. “Only a little while,” the fisherman replied.
“Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?”
“I have enough to support my family’s needs.”
The businessman then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my friends. I have a full and busy life.”
The businessman scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and buy a bigger boat with the proceeds. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats and eventually have a whole fleet of boats. You would cut out the middleman and sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small village and move to Mexico City, then LA, and eventually New York City, where you would run your expanding enterprise.”
The fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
The MBA replied, “Fifteen to 20 years.”
“But what then?” the fisherman asked.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO, sell your company stock to the public, and become very rich; you would make millions.”
“Millions?” the fisherman asked. “Then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your friends.” (author unknown)
What do you pray for? Do you pray for wisdom—the wisdom to know what is most important and what it means to have enough?
Hymn: “Holy Spirit, Truth Divine”
by Samuel Longfellow (1864)
Holy Spirit, Truth divine,
dawn upon this soul of mine.
Voice of God, and inward Light,
wake my spirit, clear my sight.
Holy Spirit, Love divine,
glow within this heart of mine.
Kindle ev’ry high desire,
purify me with your fire.
Holy Spirit, Pow’r divine,
fill and nerve this will of mine.
Boldly may I always live,
bravely serve and gladly give.
Holy Spirit, Law divine,
reign within this soul of mine.
Be my law and I shall be
firmly bound, forever free.
Holy Spirit, Peace divine,
still this restless heart of mine.
Speak to calm this tossing sea,
grant me your tranquility.
Holy Spirit, Joy divine,
gladden now this heart of mine.
In the desert ways I sing,
spring, O living Water, spring!
Thank you for sharing this moment of your day with me, with God, and with these reflections on a portion of scripture. I hope you will carry these with you throughout your day and night.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster