Hear my prayer, Lord. Let my cry for help come to You. Do not hide Your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me. When I call, answer me quickly….My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass. (Psalm 102:1-2,11)
Success is Only Temporary
Kevin “KD” Durant is a pro basketball player for the Phoenix Suns in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is regarded as one of the greatest players in NBA history and is one of the best-paid. Kevin is a Christian and speaks freely about how his faith in Jesus shapes his life on and off the court. Not surprisingly, Durant is very well aware of the fleeting nature of his fame. In a 2021 interview he said: God’s world is bigger than my little box. I’m not going to be playing this game forever. I can’t expect it to last. He says that billions of people have lived before us and have come and gone, mostly unnoticed. We really are small, if we look at life from the Lord’s perspective.1
KD’s comments remind me of several Scripture truths that I’ll discuss below.
Everything Is Meaningless Apart From God
The Bible’s book of Ecclesiastes begins like this: “Meaningless! Meaningless!…Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”2 King Solomon wrote this book in his old age, after he had tried every way he knew of to be happy. But he failed. He found everything in this world to be empty, vain, and futile and this becomes the theme of the whole book. Solomon tried science, philosophy, pleasure, materialism, egoism, religion, and morality. But he came to realize that apart from the Lord (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) all our activity is pointless and unsatisfying. He realized that God wisely designs our frustration to drive us back to Him. Only by loving, trusting, and obeying the Lord can our life have lasting meaning. Only a God-centered life can fulfill us. Ecclesiastes seems to be negative, but the Lord is assuring us that He alone is our blessed hope and helper in times of need. When we come near to God, He comes near us!
Living life “under the sun” is meaningless. So we need to focus up on the ascended Lord Jesus. Christ is exalted to the highest place with the name above every name. Every knee will bow to Jesus, in heaven and on earth and under the earth. And every tongue will one day acknowledge that Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.3
We Are Mortal and Perishable Apart from the Lord
Isaiah God’s prophet writes: “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”4
August 2023 was the single hottest month recorded in the history of Houston, Texas where I live. Our average high was almost 103 degrees. Our lawns were badly burned and when the grass was cut, it shriveled up quickly. Likewise, we human beings are ephemeral. We are here on earth for only a short while and then we are gone. But our loving God is enduring, stable, lasting, and trustworthy. People are fickle. We often break our commitments and promises to God and our neighbors.
So Jesus calls us to look up to Him by faith. He loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood. He gives us lasting grace and peace. Christ is alive and enthroned in heaven right now. He created the world and us and has always been in charge. And Christ is coming back for all His repenting and believing people to take us home to Him. If we belong to Jesus, He gives us everlasting life and we shall never perish. No one will ever snatch us out of the Lord’s strong hands. Christ calls Himself the Faithful One, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.5 So believers are eternally safe in Jesus, but never secure apart from Him.
We Need to Be Wise About Wealth
The Psalmist says: Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom. In vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be….The wise die, the foolish and the senseless also perish, leaving their wealth to others….Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases. For they will take nothing with them when they die.6
Kevin Durant, mentioned above, has a net worth of $300 million. His NBA salary is $42 million and he also earns $26 million per year from Nike for product endorsements. But Kevin is modest about his achievements. He said: I believe God’s love for me, the sacrificial death of Jesus for my sins, and His grace, not my good works, are what saves me and gives me meaning. That humbles me and makes me worship the Lord. And I let my teammates know that I don’t think I’m ahead of anybody.
Kevin realizes that the good times on earth won’t continue forever. He would agree with Winston Churchill who said: “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”
Kevin agrees with Jesus Christ too. The Lord said: “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be….No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other. You will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” (Matthew 6:19-24 NLT)
Christians Can’t Lose
Jesus teaches that one day God will replace this old broken world with a new heavens and a new earth filled with the Lord’s righteousness. It will be the greatest city ever seen and will become the eternal home for all Christ’s chosen people from every tribe, language, and nation. What a day that will be!7
Since everything around us is going to be destroyed, Jesus’ followers should live holy and godly lives, looking forward to Christ’s return and hurrying it along.8
Notes (various Bible translations): 1 Sam Anderson, New York Times Magazine (6-2-21). 2 Ecc 1:2. The Hebrew word for meaningless is hevel and it’s used thirty-eight times in Ecclesiastes. 3 Phil 2:9-11. 4 Isaiah 40:4-6. 5 Rev 1:4-6. 6 Psalms 39:6, 49:10,17. 7 Rev 5:9, 21:1-2; Heb 11:10,16, 12:22, 13:12,14; 2 Peter 3:13. 8 2 Peter 3:11-12.