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 – Scripture of the Weekend (January 18-19, 2014)
Poor people generally wish to be rich, and rich people generally are thankful they aren’t poor…and yet God wishes a different mindset for both of them (cf. Prov. 30:7-9). We tend to think that the rich have it easy, when in reality there are hardships for both them and the poor, including spiritual hardships. God warned Israel not to forget him when they became rich (Deut. 8:10-17), but they did it anyway (cf. Judges, 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, Hosea). On the other hand, Job’s wife tempted him to curse God when they lost their wealth and fell into poverty (Job 2:9). Thus, it’s not easy to be poor OR rich.
On the other hand, consider this. The poor have reason to rejoice because God exalts them (James 1:9). How? He chose the poor to be rich in faith (James 2:5; cf. Is. 66:1-2). In my observation, I have found that the gospel message was more readily and eagerly accepted by the poor people in Ukraine to whom I preached than the rich Americans back home (cf. Matt. 19:23-24). However, the rich also have reason to rejoice in that they have been humbled (James 1:10). How? Riches mean nothing in the kingdom of God (Gal. 3:28; Ps. 49:6-20). In the long run, they are temporary (James 1:11; cf. Prov. 23:1-5; 1 Tim. 6:17) and you cannot take them with you after this life is over (Luke 12:13-21). The rich in Christ can rejoice knowing that they found out about these facts of riches before it was too late for them.
May we all have Paul’s attitude (Phil. 4:11-13)…