…the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements. (James 1:11 NLT)
Fade! Faded jeans. Faded furniture. Faded memories…mental images grown dim over time. Life here on earth fades. But time tricks us, tempts us. Promises what it can’t deliver. So we humans buy the lie and exhaust ourselves, chasing after that which fades.
Riches, achievements, beauty. All are enjoyable…but they don’t last. Anyone who has watched their loved ones age and die knows how fleeting life’s beauty can be. Life fades, so James beckons us to turn our eyes toward eternity.
Let’s reflect on James 1:9-11 from The Message. I’m stirred by Eugene Peterson’s artful paraphrase. His contemporary words capture the meaning of the original language. It’s a good companion to my morning Bible Study.
When down-and-outers get a break, cheer! And when the arrogant rich are brought down to size, cheer! Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don’t ever count on it. You know that as soon as the sun rises, pouring down its scorching heat, the flower withers. Its petals wilt and, before you know it, that beautiful face is a barren stem. Well, that’s a picture of the “prosperous life.” At the very moment everyone is looking on in admiration, it fades away to nothing (James 1:9-11 The Message).
God’s Word always points us toward the unseen. Toward eternity. James reminds me once again of the value of trials. Not only do they build perseverance, but they reveal what lasts and what fades. Trials can loosen our grip on the goods of this life so that we anchor ourselves firmly in the eternal.
A final verse for reflection today: Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life. (James 1:12)
We are free to enjoy the fleeting things of this life, but with a loose grip, building our foundation on the the life given to us through Christ that never fades.