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A Heart of Humility, Regardless of Status

9 Let the brother of humble circumstances boast in his exaltation, 10 but let the rich boast in his humiliation because he will pass away like a flower of the field. 11 For the sun rises and, together with the scorching wind, dries up the grass; its flower falls off, and its beautiful appearance perishes. In the same way, the rich person will wither away while pursuing his activities. (James 1:9-11)

In these three verses, James focuses on the trials of the rich and poor and their attitudes respectively. In verse 9, James tells the “brother of humble circumstances” to “boast in his exaltation.” It may be tempting when experiencing lack of material possessions or funds to be depressed, angry, or jealous of others due to their state of finances. Yet, James challenges those who are poor to have a different mentality and find joy in the spiritual wealth that can be found only in God. Instead of complaining and comparing what one doesn’t have, the mentality should shift to see how much God is blessing us with life in the present and eternal life to come.

Then, in verse 10, James says, “Let the rich boast in his humiliation because he will pass away like a flower of the field.” James is warning the rich to not be obsessed with the material possessions, for life is fleeting and temporary. If the pursuit of wealth, then, becomes the central goal of one’s life, one would end up disappointed chasing something that will eventually fade away. James shows this same idea in verse 11, “For the sun rises and, together with the scorching wind, dries up the grass; its flower falls off, and its beautiful appearance perishes. In the same way, the rich person will wither away while pursuing his activities.” Flowers are indeed beautiful objects of God’s creation, but they eventually wither and die. In the same manner, all the physical possessions and this world as a whole will eventually fade away. So, instead, the rich are to recognize that it is the Lord that has given them these wonderful blessings, keeping a heart of humility, and should focus on pursuing God and laying up treasure in heaven, instead of pursuing riches. Jesus states this in Matthew 6:19-21, ““Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Both poor and rich are warned to avoid the temptation to fixate on the world and the physical objects within it, for it will all eventually fade away. The only thing that will remain is your relationship status with God, having one through Christ Jesus or not. Therefore, whether you are poor or rich, recognize that God is blessing you in different ways to be a blessing to those around you. Find your identity and contentment in the only One who can provide eternal joy.

Blessings,

Isaac De Guzman

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