Jeremiah 22 (my own paraphrase) You are a fool who builds your world around ill-gotten gain, and by destroying those around you. You build your fortress at the cost of others. You selfish fool – you force others to cater to your whims while offering nothing in return. You rob others of what is due them while stockpiling your wealth. You boast about your possessions, brag about what you have acquired.
Really, do you honestly think you are “somebody” because of that fine house? Do you call yourself “king” because of what you own? You disgrace the name of your father, who understood what true greatness is – while he also had material wealth, he understood where true beauty was. He served the outcast, cared for the needy. And he walked in relationship with the Lord God Almighty. But you are blind, you fool. You are self-absorbed, and care for no one else.
So, despite your efforts to be famous – you will die in disgrace. There will be no pomp, no beautiful funeral for you. Rather, you will be treated with the same affection as a farm animal when you die – cast aside and left to rot. No one will grieve. No one will mourn. Because you are empty.
Don’t you see the gifts I have given you? Don’t you see that even your ability to be prosperous at all is a gift? I whispered to you in your youth and in your wealth – reminded you who I am. But you refused to hear. You claimed it all as your own. You hardened your heart, closed your fist. And now you will eat the fruit of your decision. Everything you believe is “yours” will be swept away – with nothing but pity for you and the foolishness of your own demise. All because you refused Me.
What a haunting reminder of the futility of life without God. Lord, I think of how easy it is to get caught up in the trappings – a nice home, a good job, even the notion of being “loved by many.” And how honestly, without a heart broken and knit together again in love, none of it matters. And Lord, when I think of what Lebanon means – “Heart of God” – my own heart hurts. Because it causes me to think about the meaning of my own name – “true image.” Oh Lord, am I at all a true image of you? Do I reflect Your face in my attitude, thoughts, deeds? Or am I no different than the ruler who boasts in his trappings and clenches his possessions and shuns his neighbors and takes advantage of his friends and ignores the plight of the poor? I know that, walking in my own strength, I am undone.
Oh Lord, I praise You for Your amazing glory and grace, that You can take a self-centered life and transform it into a Christ-centered forever. You can create in me a heart that looks like the father – who though he had possessions did not count them as what was important. You can create in me a heart that looks like the Father – who pours out love and grace and mercy.