It’s easy for us to get attached to things. An old suit that doesn’t fit anymore. A cabin we’ve inherited. A pew at church our family sat in for generations. An ideology we can’t give up. An argument we’re sure we won. A job that makes us miserable. At some point, the things we get attached to become indistinguishable from us.
We get so attached to things that we suffer when they’re taken away. Similarly, people who help us keep the things that give life meaning are good. People who take away our things are bad. We make judgments about people based on how the things and people we are attached to make us feel. After that, it’s not much of a stretch to confuse the things and people we’re attached to with the One who gives us everything.
When we get attached to things, we get confused about who we are apart from those things. Then we ignore the truth. We’re flesh and blood. Nothing we get attached to, nobody we love, is permanent. We’ve been given our bodies and breath. We’ve received abilities and talents. The things and people in our lives are gifts from God.
God is the only one who decides what we receive, when, and how it’s given to us.
We’re given life, things, and people for a short time. Everything can be taken away in a moment. God provides us with a season. He plants, grows, and harvests. If we crave corn from the garden in February or a blizzard in July, it doesn’t matter. God is the only one who decides what we receive, when, and how it’s given to us.
We don’t get to go back and fix something we broke yesterday. We can decide what goal we’ll reach tomorrow, but tomorrow doesn’t exist unless God wakes us up to a new morning. All we’re given, and all that’s given to us, is for today. Only the present is given to us by God. God locates himself with us in the present which he gives us in order to live, breath, work, play, and worship.
James 4:13-15 sums this up when he writes:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
James ties Christian life to an image of business life. Note that the word “mist” shows up. James plays off of an Ecclesiastes theme: Our life is temporary, a breath, a mist. Yes, things like wealth and well-being are good gifts given from God. But, they’re not the center of our lives. First and foremost, James wants us to know that we’re temporary occupants of this world. We live only as long as God gives us time.
James does emphasize for his readers what matters most. It’s not the things we get attached to that matter. It’s not our plans to fix yesterday or write the script for tomorrow. Instead, we acknowledge the Giver of every good and complete gift. We’re grateful. We say our “amen” to everything God gives us, regardless of whether we judge it to be good or bad.
God’s Word gives us everything from the Father’s hand as a good gift.
Most importantly, we recognize in faith that everything and everyone is given to us by God’s Word. We say our “amen” to God’s Word who scatters and plants among us in the present, specifically for our salvation through his promise, Spirit, and gifts.
God’s Word gives us everything from the Father’s hand as a good gift. All life, faith, works, and worship are a gift from God given to us, for us, for the sake of Christ. Everything is given to us from the Father’s mercy in Christ Jesus; the One who calls us through baptism to detach ourselves from things and people that aren’t our Savior. In baptism, we’re called into a life rooted in God’s promise, Christ Jesus who’s always with us long after the things and people we’ve attached ourselves to have become dust.
What does God give us today? Everything. All the things and people in our lives. He gives us new life in baptism through his Word and Spirit so that our life is attached to Jesus, our Resurrection and Life, today and always.