I love taking boat rides with my daughter’s family on the St. John River. We look for and point out all the alligators sunning on the banks, notice the variety of birds, get excited over seeing an occasional manatee, and enjoy whatever in God’s creation catches our attention.
When I come home, my eyes aren’t nearly as observant. Do I notice the hungry homeless veteran on the corner or see that elderly neighbor struggling to mow his yard? Am I aware of a coworker’s sorrow or a friend’s financial need? As I maintain my comfortable little bubble, I’m often inattentive to my surroundings.
Do we cruise through life without caring about other people? Are we more like the priest and Levite that avoided the needy victim or the Good Samaritan that helped him? Jesus’ life was all about others. He came to save people from their sins, but also had compassion for the sick and the outcasts. He performed all kinds of healing miracles, and drove out demons. He even brought Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, and a widow’s son back to life.
Jesus encouraged us to extend mercy to others, but we have to notice them first. In our nation, we tend to seek comfort and luxury instead of loving our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus warned, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark10:25). The rich young ruler went away sad because he couldn’t give up his great wealth to follow the Lord.
Another rich man lived in luxury and ignored a nearby beggar’s starvation. When the selfish man died, he went to hell (Luke 16:19-31). Self-centered actions and sins of omission (Matthew 25:41-46) are accountable to God.
In contrast, Abraham, Job, and Cornelius were wealthy, but they served the Lord through being generous. Wealth is a tool to be used for good, not to be hoarded. Money isn’t evil; it’s the love of money and greed that corrupts people. “You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24).
God called the shepherd Amos to be His prophet and warn Israel. The Israelites were enjoying peace and economic prosperity, but they became a selfish, materialistic society with increased religious, judicial, and moral corruption. The Israelites were self-centered idolaters, yet spiritually smug. Amos condemned all those who made themselves rich and powerful at the expense of others, and for exploiting the needy. God’s judgment on Israel was imminent and they would lose everything. Their remedy was to seek the Lord (Amos 5:4) and execute social justice and righteousness (5:24).
America’s current condition is similar to Amos’ corrupt Israel. People do not seek God, but pursue possessions and power. Many politicians serve themselves instead of their constituents; moreover, they promote and celebrate immorality. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). This post-Christian age involves anti-Christians persecuting those who follow God’s moral laws, and educators and social media eliminating godly speech.
No one is righteous; yet, who is trying to be? There is a sincere Christian remnant, but how many of them are active? That minority’s battle is expanding and the world’s spiritual war is intensifying.
Amos’s message from the Lord is relevant for America: “Seek the Lord and live” (Amos 5:6). Love righteousness and justice more than luxury, money, and power. Don’t manipulate the oppressed and needy, but help them. Our purpose in this temporary life should be to please God, not ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:1).
How observant are you of the people around you? Do you fight for righteousness and justice in legislation? Are you generous with your time and money? Compare the amount of effort you spend seeking wealth and comfort to serving God. Are you trying to please Him or yourself?
We’re all guilty to varying degrees and should heed Amos’ timeless warning. Seeking the Lord is wise; He offers the better and more fulfilling abundant life, and rewards His faithful with a wonderful everlasting life after death.