First Reading: Jeremiah 17:5-8

Barren and Lush Plants

5 Thus says YHWH: Cursed is the man who trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from YHWH. 6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, a salt land and not inhabited. 7 Blessed is the man who trusts in YHWH, and whose trust YHWH is. 8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, who spreads out its roots by the river, and shall not fear when heat comes, but its leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

World English Bible

In the midst of his prophecy, Jeremiah compared the good and evil persons with a analogy from the plant world. The evil person was like the desert plant that knew no season, who only knew harsh conditions. [5-6] Why was this person cursed to unchanging barrenness? Notice who the person trusted, his friends and his own self ("flesh" of v. 5). This person depended on his/her looks, intelligence, or personality to persuade; he/she used wealth or friendships to promote his/her position. The person who depended only on the self and his/her friends did not see the greater picture and did not experience the greatness of God. Because of blind selfishness, the evil person did not grow emotionally or spiritually; he/she would never know joy.

The good person did grow because he/she trusted in God. The trust of a good person went beyond looks or intelligence or personality or friends. When those qualities failed (the "heat" and "drought" of v. 6-7), a spiritual life would keep the good person enriched and productive. The good person would spiritually mature and would know joy.

"All assets are liabilities; all liabilities are assets." Our talents can be our burdens; our burdens can be turned into talents. To see this paradox requires faith, firm trust in God.

What are your burdens and your talents? How can they give God glory?