11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
It is summer in Minnesota.
Summer is a sweet balm for the soul in a state where winter temperatures can reach well below zero on a regular basis. In many years, the snow that falls in November doesn’t completely melt away until April.
When summer finally arrives, I am convinced that there is no more beautiful place to live than the state of Minnesota. With its 11,842 lakes and 67 state parks, Minnesota abounds with natural wonder.
I’m always amused when the temperatures in Minnesota reach triple digits. There are times when the thermometer reaches marks that make this northern state hot genuine hot zone. It’s on those days that our neighbors in southern states speak in awe about the fact that the frigid tundra has actually become warmer than their state.
When I read James 1:11, I think of the hottest days of a Minnesota summer. It really doesn’t matter where you live, eventually, the sun will rise with a heat so intense that the grass will wither and the flower will fall. The Apostle James says it simply . . . its beauty perishes.
We live in a culture that is obsessed with beauty. The idea that beauty might someday perish is something that is hard to swallow. But, it’s true. What’s true in nature is true of people. Proverbs 31:30 may be one of the best-known places where Scripture speaks to beauty’s temporary nature:
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;Proverbs 31:30 NLT
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
James tells us that the same is true of the accomplishments of those who hustle about to make a name for themselves. We all eventually die. The rich person, whose entire life has been about elevating himself or herself will eventually fade away.
In our upsidedown world we seem to elevate those who have achieved a certain amount of economic prosperity. But, there is a wealth that will outlast all that we accumulate here on earth. Jesus called it storing up treasure in heaven.
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.Matthew 6:19-24 ESV
Not all those who have been blessed with wealth use it to elevate themselves. There are so many stories of those who have been blessed who use those blessings to be a blessing to others. One of the most important mentors in my life once said to me, “Brian, there are two types of people in the world. There are the Here I Am people, whose whole lives are about themselves. When they walk into a room they scream for attention. Then there are the There You Are people. These are the people who make you feel like you are the most important person in the world. Their lives are about lifting others up.
Think about it. Who has made the greatest difference in your life?
- Here I am people?
- There you are people?
I think most of us woud say it is the “there you are people” that God has put into our lives have influenced us the most.
Now, who do you want to be in the lives of others? If this world is all that there is then you may as well make a name for yourself. Make as much money as you can. Climb every ladder of success that you can.
But, if what James says is true. If we will eventually fade away in the midst of our pursuits, then let’s make sure that we are pusuing the right things.
Casting Crowns has a song entitled Only Jesus that says it so beautifully. Have a listen here, and then let me know what God is stirring up in you.