9Let the humble brothers and sisters boast that they have been raised up, 10but let the rich boast in their humility, because like the flower in the field, those with riches will pass away. 11Because the sun rises with its blazing heat, and dries of the field of grass. Its flower falls and its surface beauty is destroyed. In the same way will the rich wither away as they go about their business. — James 1: 9-11 (TFBV)
James is hard on rich people. One of the reasons for this is that people who are rich and well off tend to trust in what they have accomplished for themselves, or even in their current state when it is none of their own doing. That’s one reason why we have the stereotype of the useless heir, one who inherits wealth and then squanders it on a lifetime of irresponsible living.
At the same time, James points us to a different distinction in these same versesâ€”what is going on inside as opposed to what appears on the surface. This goes back to an old Biblical issue over God’s blessing. People often assumed that surely God was blessing the people who were rich, but that his curse was on those who didn’t have as much.
James is pointing out here that if you have God working inside you, if God is raising you up, then you have something that will last through the heat of the sun. If you simply have your possessions, the things outside of you, they can be taken away in an instant. The stock market can crash, the economy can fizzle, and a person who thought he was extremely well off will find himself with nothing.
There is no earthly security that makes us totally safe. If something here on earth is our ultimate security we are always in the position of the grassâ€”ready to be scorched, to wither, and to die. But with God active inside, we have something to boast about, something that not even death can destroy.
What is your boast today?