ODJ: selfish ambition

April 18, 2015 

READ: Amos 5:4-13 

How you hate honest judges! How you despise people who tell the truth! You trample the poor, stealing their grain through taxes and unfair rent (vv.10-11).

An article published in Fortune magazine addressed the values of some young adults—attitudes which pervade much of today’s culture, including the church. “On the Fast Track to the Good Life” noted that many young adults view success as being at the top of a major corporation, believe in themselves and their abilities and lack humility, view any relationship that slows their ascent up the corporate ladder as an anchor preventing their success, don’t value loyalty and believe little can be learned from previous generations.

Amos, though a simple shepherd and farmer (Amos 1:1, 7:14-15), was truly successful as a prophet. He may have lacked training, but God used him to deliver a condemning message to the people of Israel in the northern kingdom. Under the reign of King Jeroboam II, the people prospered politically and economically, but they had beome morally depraved and forgot God’s ways (3:10). The rich oppressed the poor, took advantage of the vulnerable and bought and sold people for goods (2:6-7, 4:1, 5:11-12, 8:4-6).

The simple life of Amos gave him a unique insight into the oppressed and voiceless in his world (4:1-3). He boldly confronted Israel’s complacent view as God’s covenant people and challenged their lifestyle of prideful privilege (3:2,10-11).

The people of Israel did not take kindly to the honest message of this foreigner from the southern kingdom (7:12-13), yet he continued to condemn their arrogance, idolatry and materialism.

Amos offers little consolation to those who live without regard for the most vulnerable, and his criticism warns us to steer clear of selfish ambition. Instead, may we follow God’s leading and reflect His loving heart for those in need.

—Ruth O’Reilly-Smith

365-day-plan: 1 Kings 17:1-24

Read Micah 6:8 and James 1:27 to see what true religion looks like. 
How have you fallen into the tempting trap of materialism? How can you be more intentional about humbly serving the vulnerable of the world?