Friday, July 31, 2020

The Vision (7.31.20): The Fading Away of the Rich Man

Image: Blueberries with morning dew, North Garden Virginia, July 2020

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on James 1:9-11.

For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways (James 1:11).

James works upon the consciences of the rich by reminding all men of the brevity of this life. See v. 10b: “because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away” (cf. Isaiah 40:80).

He continues in v. 11 to describe how the rising sun with its burning heat soon withers the grass and its flower fades “and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth.” Go to any nursing home, yeah, to any cemetery, and you see the condition of the youth of yesterday. All the beauty queens, all the athletes, all the intellectuals, all the successful businessmen, statemen, and captains of industry have gone the way of all flesh. James speaks directly to the rich: “so shall the rich man fade away in his ways.”

Those words remind me of General MacArthur’s famous speech in which he said, Old soldiers never die. They just fade away.” But MacArthur was wrong. They do die, and then they fade away from memory. And what is more, even their death is not the end. As Paul said in Hebrews 9:27: “and it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment.”

All the richest men of past generations have already discovered this, whether Nelson Rockefeller, Howard Hughes, or Steve Jobs. And all the wealthy of the present generation, whether Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos, will find it out soon enough.

Christ ended his parable of the barn builder in Luke 12:20 with the rich man hearing the Lord say to him, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.”

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:7: “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

The truth also is that you do not need to be a fabulously wealthy to be the rich man who is addressed here. You simply have to be a man who rests in himself and his own ability and who falsely thinks that everything is going to keep going just as it is now forever and ever. It will not.

James challenges us to ask ourselves: Where do I find my greatest contentment and consolation in life? In Christ or in the things of this world?

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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