By afflictions, God is spoiling us [i.e., taking away from us] of what otherwise might have spoiled us. When he makes the world too hot for us to hold, we let it go. – John Powell
Growing up I had a license plate frame that said “Not Spoiled, Blessed.” I was always a little self-conscience about it because it seemed very Orange County, but it was a gift from my parents, and so it stayed. (In fact when my mother reads this she’ll be a little sad that she was a part of anything that caused me the slightest discomfort. It’s o.k. Mom – I survived.) Desspite my awkwardness the license plate frame surely conveyed some truth. I was definitely blessed.
The problem with the frame was the perception that it engendered that somehow what made me bless were the possessions that I had. This was not the case, not because I didn’t have nice things, for I most certainly did, but they weren’t my truest source of blessings. That came from the fact that I was a sinner saved by grace, a saying that makes a poor license plate frame but contains everlasting glory. The problem is that most people won’t make the distinction between the two. They will be left with the thought that somehow what I have dictates who I am, and the condition of my being. This happens a lot. People hold on so tight to what they have that it begins to define them. When we are defined by what we own, we cease to be defined by God.
Chapter 5 of James has a lot to say about this subject. Primarily it encourages readers to remember that everything in this world is going to burn. When we aren’t willing to sacrifice material gain for heavenly glory our balance sheet is out of whack. Oftentimes God will work in our lives to correct this imbalance. He’ll use the things that we’ve placed ahead of Him to show us His proper place. God makes a poor second fiddle, and in His love for us, He’ll spoil that which supplants Him.
Being spoiled isn’t a bad thing, if what we are spoiled for is any work but what God has intended. If we are completely useless except in bringing Him glory, if we can offer nothing but all that we have, than we truly are blessed.