Last time we looked at the man with wavering faith and how you cannot expect to receive anything of the Lord if your faith wavers. This time we'll be looking at the rich and the poor and how that impacts your decisions.
Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted but the rich in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 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.
The main thing I see in this passage at a glance is how contradictory it is to this world. The world is so lost that most of the time, the doctrine of the world and the doctrine of the Bible contradict, usually quite obviously. Here, James exhorts the poor to rejoice in that they are exalted and the rich rejoice in that they are made low - or humbled. In the eyes of the world, this is exactly the opposite!
REMEMBER: James is writing to the Jewish believers.
For the poor, this exaltation is because he knows that even though he is poor on earth he is rich in heaven. James is exhorting them rejoice in this as a testimony of what God has done, is doing, and will do for them. Do you often see a happy beggar? Or are they sad and melancholy? I have seen both. Granted, I never spoke with them, so I don't know if the happy ones were Christians or not, but they did stand out in the crowd. As believers, no matter rich or poor, we should be different than everyone else - we should stand out in the crowd, we should not blend in. Christ has not called us to be like the world, but to be completely different! To let His light shine in this dark world!
For the rich, this rejoicing in their humility is to keep them from exalting in their riches. For the"love of money is the root of all evil". You can be rich and not love your money, this is how the rich believer should be. Putting God first, and money last. James compares the rich man to the grass and the flowers. As soon as the sun rises (as it does quite often) the grass withers and the flowers die, for they cannot stand against the heat of the sun. Like the grass and the flowers, the rich person will fade away. "Where you treasure is, there your heart is also." If the man is his riches, if that is his love, his life, his purpose, then when the sun rises, he will wither and die. This is not to say that rich people are evil, it truly depends on where their heart is, and ultimately, their treasure. Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not corrupt and where thieves don't break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart is also. Therefore, it is not the riches that will fade away, but the rich person himself if he is not 100% following after God.
This is not to say, however, that all poor people are believers! On the contrary, many are not. But by being poor you are eliminating one of the biggest obstacles that stand between you and Christ - money and possessions. Rich people can be believers and poor people can be believers. Both are equal in God's eyes. But as the scripture says, "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God...who then can be saved?...With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Riches and pride, I believe, are the biggest obstacles that people have to get around before they can be true believers. We may not all have riches, but I guarantee you that we've all got pride.
Put God first.
In Christ alone,