As I was sitting in the mechanic’s air conditioned waiting room, leaning back on his padded couch with a television droning on should I care to watch and a cup of free coffee between my hands, bemoaning all my misfortunes, I suddenly realized what a luxury it was to do so. A tropical storm had moved almost directly over us, yet we only lost power for a few hours. Thirteen inches of rain had fallen, yet we could still get up and down our road to a dry home; we just couldn’t use the telephones and modem for four days. The air conditioning in the car, something I never even had as a child, was out, but I could still drive it to the dealership, sit in comfort while they fixed it, and my warranty covered it completely. The pump was out so I had to do without running water for five hours. A hundred years ago I wouldn’t even have known what I was missing. What a luxury to be able to complain about such things.
I saw a promo on television the other night. Some rich, show biz personality was “going ballistic” because the $100 lipstick she bought did not match her evening gown, and she had broken a nail right after a $300 manicure. I remember feeling outraged and downright disgusted with her, but am I any better?
Compared to most people in the world, we live lives of luxury and don’t even realize it. I am sure many of those impoverished people would have felt the same outrage at me had they heard me complaining.
In the Old Testament, Israel became so wealthy that all they cared about was living lives of ease. They stopped being concerned about the things a true people of God should be concerned with, like sin and evil in the world. While many did not actually partake of those things, they simply let them keep on existing. The important things to them were building large, comfortable homes, entertaining in style, and having others wait on them. That is one of the reasons they were destroyed, as Amos plainly put it. The elite, the “first” in the nation, were the first to be carried away captive.
The next time we start our “poor little me” lists, we need to take a good look at them. Let’s at least realize what a luxury it is to have such things to complain about and be grateful, and let’s save our real complaints for things that truly matter.
Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria…Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the middle of the stall, who sing idle songs to the sound of the harps and like David, invent themselves instruments of music, who drink in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph. Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile, and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away. The Lord God has sworn by himself, declares the Lord, the God of hosts, I abhor the pride of Jacob and hate his strongholds, and I will deliver up his city and all that is in it, Amos 6:1, 4-8.
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