The passing and transient nature of fallen humanity, on a cursed earth, is restated in many passages in the Bible. The grass withers in the field, and is soon cast into the furnace, while the beauty of a flower quickly fades away. The present heaven and earth are also transient and will one day pass away, for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are lasting and eternal.
Wealth and riches are not forever, and the crown of rulers and their sceptre of authority will not endure. We live in a perishable body, and the peace and security for which men seek so earnestly is short-lived and evanescent. The earth mourns and is withering away, while people in exalted positions, will ultimately fade away.
The truth of the transient nature of God’s creations is not designed to bring us to the brink of despair, but to grab man’s attention and teach us the impermanence of this life, the futility of chasing after the wind, and the fleeting value of material possessions and elevated positions. It is to teach us that we have nothing of which to boast, in and of ourselves, “for we have brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”
A tiny babe is born into this world with nothing – not even a covering for his little naked body, and although a wealthy man may be buried with great pomp and circumstance in a jewel-encrusted coat, and laid in a costly granite tomb, this is still a statement of the fragility of life – for everything he owned remains behind.
While worldly riches are not evil and can be put to good use during the course of a man’s life – death is the great leveller, for it teaches the vital lesson that we were born into this world with nothing, and we cannot take anything we accumulate between birth and death with us. But death is also a gracious tool that God uses to cause men to search for truth and life – which is only found by faith in Christ Jesus our God and Saviour.
Paul knew that seeking after the glittering prizes of life and the accumulation of riches, can often lead us into temptation or entrap us within a materialistic mind-set, which can so speedily catapult us into ruin and destruction. Paul knew that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and an understanding of the passing nature of the material world, is an effective method which God uses to teach us this life-changing truth.
Understanding that we bring nothing into the world and can take nothing out of it, is also a reminder of our daily dependence on the Lord, Who has promised to provide for the everyday needs – which He provides in accordance with His riches in mercy. It encourages us to trust Him to fulfil His promises, and it develops an unshakable faith in His Word, while discouraging the human propensity towards self-sufficiency and selfish pride.
To accept that we have nothing about which to boast, helps each one of us to realise that without Him we can do nothing – for all we are, and all we have, and all that has been given to us, is from His bountiful supply.
The principle that is encompassed in this verse and is encapsulated in one of the earliest books of the Bible, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Heavenly Father, thank You for teaching me the important principles of life in this passing, transient world. May I take this truth to heart, never forget that I was born with nothing, and remember how transient this life is. Thank You for Your amazing plan of redemption, and that by grace I have been given an eternal inheritance that will not fade away. I praise You that in Christ I have all I need for life and godliness, and that I been clothed with His own righteousness. Keep me from being tempted by the glittering prizes of this fleeting world system, and when I am tempted by material possessions, help me to recognise them as the gaudy trinkets of a world that is passing away. Thank You for my salvation and my new-life-in-Christ. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.
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