Friday in the First Week of Ordinary Time

James 1:9-11

How Transitory Life Is!

I suppose there are some who will want to turn this passage into a “Hurrah!” for the poor and a “Down with the Rich!” theme.  That’s really not what it is about.  Granted, James has some pretty strong words for the wealthy who have earned their riches in unjust ways or who were otherwise tight-fisted with their overflowing resources, but that is not the point here.  (One of the humorous facts of life which I have long noticed is that when Scripture speaks of the rich, no one seems to think that they belong to that class but that Scripture must be speaking to the guy who has one more dollar than they do.  Listen up, brother, if you live in America, you’re rich!) 

But as I said, this passage is about something else; namely, how fleeting and transitory life is.  It doesn’t matter—rich or poor, mighty or lowly, king or pauper—we’re all subject to the same vicissitudes of life over which we have no control—from health to natural disasters and that greatest and most unfeeling ruler over all our lives—time.  Time listens not to our pleas and cares not for our cries.  If any of the pagan gods ever had a heart of stone, it must be Chronos.  And what are we by comparison?  Why, the polar opposite, James tells us, as do a plethora psalms.  We are like the flower of the grass that will pass away—rich and poor alike.  Time is wonderfully egalitarian, you see. 

So the primary question then becomes, “How then shall we live in the face of such an utterly inescapable fate?”  James shows us the way of wisdom.  Let the lowly boast in his exaltation.  “What exaltation?” you scream.  That like a flower he has been made to bloom, but for much more than a moment, for he is far greater than a flower and has been made in God’s image, an eternal soul who clinging to the Immortal Flower shall one day be transplanted by Him into an eternal garden by bubbling brooks where time extends no rule.  Why should he not boast in his temporary lot on earth when it portends a far greater abode in heaven?  And the rich man too may glory but in his lowliness.  Providing he has managed his wealth for the sake of his poorer brothers and trusted in Christ his Lord, he too may rejoice that what goes by “wealth” here does not amount to a pittance there, and that he shall one day have the good fortune of trading his worthless and disappearing earthly possessions for the enduring rewards of eternal life.  And so, you see, in the end, we all stand naked before the Judgment seat of Christ; no one has anything to offer, no one has any claim to make—lest it be this: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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