Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
James 1:9-11 (ESV)
This passage from James reminds me of the book of Ecclesiastes in the way James deals the pursuit of wealth. The rich man will fade away in his pursuits, yet the lowly brother is exalted in his status. This is how it works with God. He views the world and its pleasures differently than we do.
Ecclesiastes tells us that the pursuit of wealth and all that includes is like chasing the wind, it is ever elusive. The wind cannot be caught. The pursuit of wealth is just as elusive. When wealth is the central focus of ones existence, there is never enough wealth. The pursuit of anything more eagerly than serving and worshipping God is an exercise in futility.
The lowly or poorer man lives in contrast to the rich man. The lowly man doesn’t forget the important things in one’s existence. He lives more in the moment than the man that is always seeking more wealth. Jesus said that it is easier for camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
The Bible teaches in many places that wealth can an obstacle to serving God. It doesn’t teach that to have wealth is a sin, its the pursuit of it above all else that causes the problem. Yet, we can justify it in our minds just like any other sinful undertaking. Our natural inclination is to be self-serving and this is what leads to the pursuit of things that end up being detrimental to our spiritual well-being.
James says that the lowly brother is the one that will be exalted. The one that keeps their life in perspective and is content is more likely to be more pleasing to God. He will remember whom the real provider is, rather than fade away in pointless pursuits.
© 2014 Leo J. Woodman