The Fading Flower: James 1:11
Previous verse: And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. (NLT)
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. (KJV)
James continues the topic of wealth in this verse—a conclusion of verse 10—with a really vivid focus on what it looks like to rely on something with no eternal value. Money is a huge part of our society. People save it, make it, use it, give it, need it, want it, hoard it, treasure it, dedicate their lives to amassing more and more of it every single day of their lives. To a degree, it's a part of all our realities—a necessity of life day to day. But when money becomes more real to us than the spiritual work in God's Kingdom, sometimes we need James' not-so-gentle reminder of what it ultimately comes to in the end.
The rich man, the one who thrives in abundance of money, who treasures it, hoards it, and builds his life upon it, is like a flower in a field. Pretty, safe, secure. Flowers seem to have it made—they're carefree, think they have no worries, and look beautiful to everyone around them. But they're also fragile. Delicate, and sprung up from shallow roots.
When the sun comes up "with a burning heat"—in other words, when trials come—a man whose life is founded on money will face the same fate as a flower. His safe, secure lifestyle will wither, his riches will fall, their beauty and appeal will perish, and he will fade away, no longer important or enviable, to be forgotten by a world that values money above all else.
Fade: to sink away: VANISH
Sink~ We learned in James 1:10 that God humbles the rich, to remind of them of their need for Him and of their true spiritual state. He brings us low when we fancy ourselves "rich", and in so doing, can actually save us from the blindness that comes with wealth, drawing us back to what truly matters in eternity.
Vanish~ Those who live for money die for money in the end, and that is not a lasting legacy. Money has no eternal value—it doesn't come with us to heaven, it doesn't mean a thing to God, and it doesn't get us anywhere close to His Kingdom. A legacy of money is like a flower in a field: quick to wither, quick to fall away, and quick to be forgotten.
Riches pass away like the flower in the field, but so do the people who care too much about them! We should not place our focus on money or wealth, as difficult as it can be sometimes to put our worries about money in God's hands. At the end of the day, is our focus on financial security, or the everlasting Kingdom of God? If we focus on His work, and storing up treasures in heaven, we can be sure of an eternal reward and a life that will not wither with the sun.
Mish, Frederick C. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. 9th ed., Merriam-Webster Inc., 1983.