Learning about the Kingdom of Heaven is disconcerting. God’s view of success is the polar opposite of what we are taught to value. In society, and in the church, the powerful are ambitious, look out for number one, and do whatever it takes to make a name for themselves. Envy is encouraged in online and television advertisements. The website Facebook gives us a chance to brag to the world about all we have accomplished, and compare those accomplishments with our friends’. In James, we are instructed that “such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic,” (v. 15). “Wisdom…from heaven is…pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive…” (v. 17). In other words, success in God’s kingdom is anti-success. It puts others first and values sincerity and peace above selfish scrambling for superiority. It is submissive. In all our posturing for recognition and praise, do we consider others? Are we impartial and sincere, or do we look to flatter those who can improve our image?
God of all, transform our hearts and minds that we might value your idea of success, and seek it for our own lives. Amen.