Proverbs in Light of the Cross; Oppression and Human Nature

I am writing today from beautiful Florida.

I am writing today from beautiful Florida

Do not envy the oppressor, And choose none of his ways;  For the perverse person is an abomination to the LordBut His secret counsel is with the upright. Proverbs 3:31-32 NKJV

I already know you are not going to like this, but I have heard it said, “The only difference between Adolf Hitler and us, is that Hitler had the opportunity and we didn’t.” Now that is a terrible thing to say, but is it true? Let’s be honest. When left to our our human nature don’t we try to manipulate people and situations as much as is legal and socially acceptable in our situation? Do we try to control other people as far as we are allowed? If so, then that’s all Hitler was doing, controlling people as far as he was allowed. We don’t want to be called a “control freak” but we all know where the line is before we cross over into becoming a control freak. Do we try to get as close to that line as possible?

During the dark ages of papal reign and folks being burned at the stake for exercising their freedom to think for themselves, many fled to a new world where they would not suffer papal oppression.

Yet honest and God-fearing as they were, the Pilgrims did not yet comprehend the great principle of religious liberty. The freedom which they sacrificed so much to secure for themselves, they were not equally ready to grant to others. “Very few, even of the foremost thinkers and moralists of the seventeenth century, had any just conception of that grand principle, the outgrowth of the New Testament, which acknowledges God as the sole judge of human faith.”–Ibid., vol. 5, p. 297. The doctrine that God has committed to the church the right to control the conscience, and to define and punish heresy, is one of the most deeply rooted of papal errors. –Ellen White, Great Controversy, Pages 292-293

So these pilgrims, fled oppression and then, while meaning well, became the oppressors, once the opportunity was available to them. People use the term “papal” to describe someone who is being bossy, narrow minded and controlling. Yet it is not a papal issue. It is a human nature issue. Without God’s grace we all are as papal as the situation will allow.

See now, why some say the only difference between Hitler and us is Hitler had the opportunity and we did not? It may be an extreme illustration, but maybe not as extreme as we would like to imagine. I realize too, there have been people who had opportunities equal to Hitler who were very nice and not the least bit oppressive. Still, it’s something to consider.

Of course hopefully there is one difference. Hopefully we are living in the Spirit instead of the flesh.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1 NKJV

The only way to make sure we are not a Hitler, or a papal oppressor is to crucify self and let God’s Spirit live in us.

 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24 

Jesus did not die to control us. He died to set us free from the sin that was controlling us.

 

I am the Rich Person James is Talking About

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. Your gold and silver are corroded. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This corroded treasure you have hoarded will testify against you on the day of judgment. For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. James 5:1-4 NLT

King David heard a story about oppression and became very angry about it, until Nathan told him, “You are that man!” Like King David, I have to admit, for years whenever I read James 5:1-4, I thought I was among the poor that God’s justice would vindicate. I have lost money to dishonest and greedy people. I compared myself to those who had more. Then I realized there are many who consider me rich! With almost 7 billion people on the planet, there are only 1 billion cars.* This does not mean that 1 out of 7 people owns a car, because there are many people and companies who own many cars, meaning there are over 6 billion people who do not own a car. So if you own a car, even if its a 1980 Ford Pinto, you have something over 6 billion earthlings do not have. The other night when you got sick in the middle of the night and had to run to the toilet down the hall, you may not have realized what a luxury that midnight run was. Over two billion people don’t have a toilet to run to in the middle of the night. ** So their experience with sickness may be a little different than yours. The other night I got a headache and my bones became a little achy, so I took a hot bath and presto! Headache disappeared and my bones felt brand new. Again, a hot bath would not be an option for billions of people. What a luxury!

Now when I read James 5, I realize I am one of the rich people James is talking to. But how could I be holding back the wages of the workers in the field? I don’t even own a field. How about the gospel workers in God’s field? Do I return an honest tithe and offering? If not then I am cheating the field workers of their wages just like James says. Do I give an honest tip to the waitress, hairdresser or the boy who carried my grocery bags to the car? If not, I am the cheater James is talking to. I could go on but I think you get the point.

Withholding money which rightfully belongs to others is not the only form of oppression. How about when we snub someone from our social circle because they don’t conform to our beliefs or opinions? That is emotional oppression! How about when we sneer at the kid who just let the ball go in the other goal, costing our kid’s team the game? That’s emotional oppression. So you don’t have to be a millionaire to be oppressive.

No matter what my losses in life have been, I am still the rich person James is warning in James 5.

If God is for us, who can ever be against us?  Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Romans 8:31-32 NLT

If I give my bread to someone who never pays me back that is okay. My Father will give me all the bread I need. If I love someone who never loves me back that is okay. My Father gives me all the love I need. Whenever the Bible gives warnings to the rich, I know those warnings are for me personally. Nathan woke David up by saying, “you are that man!” When I read James 5 the Holy Spirit woke me up by saying, “You are that man!”

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

*http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/08/23/car-population_n_934291.html

**http://www.actionagainsthunger.org/impact/water-sanitation-hygiene?gclid=Cj0KEQiAneujBRDcvL6f5uybhdABEiQA_ojMglo4kAT0afufxpjEU4q0va_pKJZXhX7eZB8yElpImHEaAjY78P8HAQ