ArticleBible & Theology

Eternal Pursuits and the Great Equalizer

In this fleeting life, Christ calls us to pursue the lost rather than earthly success.
“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.” (James 1:11 ESV)

What are you chasing in this life?

Money is often the object of many pursuits. The poor want money. The rich often want more money. But James commanded the poor to boast in their spiritual riches and the rich to boast in their humiliation—the reality that their riches will fade away (1:9-10). He used the fleeting nature of a flower and grass as an illustration. Verse 11 accented this metaphor with a rebuke to the rich man.

James quoted Isaiah 40:6–8 and Psalm 103:15–16 and compared the rich to the flowers in the wild. Flowers are beautiful at sunrise but wither in the scorching heat of midday. The result is a passing beauty that falls and fades. And just like this fading plant, the rich person and his pursuit of riches will also fade away.

The rich and poor have two realities in common: death and departure. Both rich and poor chase wealth in this life. But both will die and then depart from their circumstance. The poor man will leave his poverty. The rich man will leave his wealth. Death is the great equalizer.

South Africa paints the perfect contrast between rich and poor. South African society is the most unequal in the world. Its population is trending towards 60 million and is comprised of several distinct ethnic and language groups. The country has a bitter history of racial tension, cultural division, violence, disease (HIV/AIDS), and economic imbalance. The country is rich with natural resources like gold, diamonds, iron ore, and copper. Yet over 50 percent of the population live below the poverty line. Over 73 percent earn less than $10 per day.

Like the rest of the world, South Africans—both poor and rich—pursue material wealth for a more comfortable earthly life. But when death comes, they will leave their poverty and their riches. What they need is the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the source of true riches and the promise of life eternal. Poverty and riches will both pass away, but Jesus and his Word stands forever.

In this life, we must chase the eternal. We must pursue the lost for the sake of Jesus and his gospel. Many still haven’t heard. What will you do to help them hear?

Prayer:

“Lord, help me to be mindful that my time on this earth is short. Keep me focused on the eternal, on those things that do not fade away. Give me the energy to pursue those.”


Prayer requests for South Africa:

  1. Pray for safety for the missionaries serving in Durban, Cape Town, George, and Hermanus.
  2. Pray for bridges into disadvantaged communities where the gospel needs to penetrate.
  3. Pray for God to send more workers to help the South African church advance the gospel.
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About the Author

Bobby Hile is ABWE’s director of long-term mobilization. Prior to that, he served for nine years as a senior pastor in Ohio and for almost 20 years with ABWE as a missionary in South Africa.

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