Jesus once preached to the multitudes, reminding them how brief our life down here really is:
"Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. "But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! (Luke 12:27-28)
The book of Job is considered to be the earliest book of the Bible to have been written. If this is true, we can see how this perspective has been with us from the beginning of time:
He comes forth like a flower and fades away; He flees like a shadow and does not continue. (Job 14:2)
The Psalmist had the same revelation:
As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. when the wind has passed over it, it is no more, and its place acknowledges it no longer. (Psalm 103:15-16)
The apostle James specifically addresses those who have riches, echoing what we are told in that material wealth never lasts:
Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits. (James 1:9-11)
I find it interesting that both the apostles James and Peter took time to write to those who were living under persecution that our lives down here should be compared to fading flowers and grass:
Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because
“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:22-25)
We don’t hear much about this perspective today and we rarely hear sermons about it, even though it is a timeless and universal truth. Here is what the Lord told the prophet Isaiah to proclaim:
The voice said, “Cry out!”
And he said, “What shall I cry?”
“All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:6-8)
Peter was quoting these verses from Isaiah when he told the believers of his day not to put emphasis on their outward beauty, but instead, on the inner man:
Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. (1 Peter 3:3-4)
If you want to reduce the stress about getting older or your usefulness fading, don’t put all your emphasis on the outward man, but rather focus on the hidden man of the heart. True beauty comes from within, living a life full of love and kindness, good works, and hospitality. In the same way, if you want to reduce stress of trying to hold onto your success, put more energy into family, friendships, giving, and service, always looking for ways to help the next generation come into their own season of success.
Do you think we can find some relief from stress by looking at our lives in this way? I think so. The realization that life is as brief as a flower, which is only bright and beautiful for a short time, then fades away, could help us cope with life’s difficulties. Any middle-aged person will tell you how fleeting life really is. Trying to prolong it, to stave off the inevitable, only creates more pressure. Ask anyone who was once considered handsome or beautiful about the pressure they feel about aging and they will tell you it is a big adjustment. This truth not only applies to beauty, but also to our usefulness or success. People work hard to develop their skills, peak for a short season, and then the moment fades away like grass. Any musician or actor will tell you how fleeting fame is. They will also tell you that the journey from nothing to something was really the best part. They are always looking back on this stage with fondness. It is the struggle upward that they always glory in. The actual moment of success doesn’t last long, and decline is sure. This is just as true for those who are in Christian ministry. All of our favorite preachers fade and their moment in sun is fleeting.
If all our effort is put into trying to keep it, it will add more stress to their lives. We need to embrace the inevitable. Realizing our life is like a flower helps limit the stress. We should learn to pray, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
2023 © Copyright by Penn Clark Published by Wordsmith Publishing of Penn Yan, New York