“When we ignore the inevitability of our own death, we place an inordinate amount of focus and attention upon the passing pleasures and momentary successes of this life, and fail to live with eternity in mind.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 1, 2022
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. James 4:13-14, ESV
We spend an incredible amount of time focused on the content and shape of our own lives. From recreational pursuits and hobbies to education and careers, we are most often at the center of our stories. As such, it is easy to be convinced of our own self-importance and enduring significance. We think, “How could things that matter so deeply to us not matter and be remembered for generations to come?”
In the fourth chapter of his letter, St. James offers us a sobering reality check. “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). I think of these words when I take time, as I often do, to stroll through cemeteries and read the headstones. There, beneath my feet lie entire generations of families, each with their own passions and pursuits, men and women who loved, cried, laughed, and fought for things, both beautiful and broken. And yet, every time I am struck by the anonymity of it all. If the cemetery is old enough, there isn’t a single living soul who knew any of the people buried within it. They are, as James says, a mist that vanished as quickly as it came.
Wisdom invites us to anticipate our own place within the cemetery. Regardless of your age, it is not nearly as far off as you might think or hope! And when we dismiss this truth and ignore the inevitability of our own death, we place an inordinate amount of focus and attention upon the passing pleasures and momentary successes of this life, and fail to live with eternity in mind. Into this situation, the early church father St. John Chrysostom offers his own words of great wisdom, saying, “If you knew how quickly people would forget you after your death, you will not seek in your life to please anyone but God.”
Your life is but a breath (Psalm 144:4), here today and gone tomorrow. Do not waste it in vain pursuits, losing yourself in the love of money or the need for human affirmation. Set your heart on high with the Lord, and make pleasing him through daily repentance and humility your greatest goal and most enduring legacy.
Father, teach us to number our days and live with eternity in our hearts, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
In the next few weeks, consider taking an hour to walk through a local cemetery, prayerfully asking the Lord to meet you there, reminding you of the brevity of life and importance of focusing your heart on heaven.
Job 14:5; Psalm 39:4; Psalm 139:16
The Lone Bellow: Teach Me To Know
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