It was early morning. Two men stood on the wall of the city looking out over the enormous army amassed against them. For months now, one of these men has been sending warnings to the king of the land about the traps set by these marauding invaders. The king of Aram has had enough of his plans being foiled. He sends his warriors en masse to capture the prophet Elisha. And now here they are, surrounding the city.
Elisha’s servant is terrified, and rightfully so. The citizens of the city are unlikely to fight to defend the two men. And he asks the question that any of us would ask, “What are we to do?” Elisha responds, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then he prays. He prays that his servant’s eyes might be opened. God answers his prayer, and Elisha’s servant sees “the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elijah.”
Two people. Two totally different perspectives. James tackles this issue of perspective in chapter 2 as he challenges his readers about the way they view those around them. His audience was apparently guilty of showing favoritism to the rich in their assembly. The wealthy were given places of honor, while the poor where relegated to the “cheap seats” and treated with at least mild contempt. Any such judgment based on outward appearance is wrong. For God has created us all in His image, and although that image was marred in the fall, it is still there. That is the basis of the command to love our neighbor as ourself which James calls the “royal law”. And when we focus on the externals, we fail to see the infinite value that each person has in the eyes of God.
When I, when we, make judgments about others from an earthly perspective (wealth, beauty, status, brains, etc.), we are looking only at the temporary, earthly things…the things that are destined for destruction. We are like Elisha’s servant who could only see his circumstances – what was are right in front of him – and he missed the deeper truth that God was right there with him all the time. We too miss the deeper spiritual realities, that are every bit as true, all around us…such as the people that God has given us to love. And a failure to love is a failure to keep any of the commandments, because love is the foundation of them all. James is continually calling us to see life from God’s perspective. And if we can’t, he admonishes us to pray for the wisdom to be able to do so.
I pray that God would give you the ability to see your world – your circumstances, yourself and others around you – through His eyes.
Until next time, stay salty.