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.
James now moves on t0 write regarding the rich in the church.
James is writing to the rich and poor of how to stay encouraged during what could be a tough time. He writes to “the rich” because there are Wealthy Christians. Many would take teaching about the Rich in the Gospels and make Christianity out to be a “poor man’s only” club. Christianity is not a religion demanding poverty and James clearly sees room for both in the church. There are preachers out there today, mainstream, who would push all Christians to give away their wealth and purposely live in or at the poverty line.
Wealth cannot help with a spiritual test.
We cannot buy our way into heaven. Christianity brings to the rich a new sense of self-abasement. Riches while useful, can bring a false sense of security. They make you feel safe. They make you feel as though you have the resources to cope with anything. They give the false-security of being financially stable enough to buy oneself into or out of any situation.
James gives a great illustration of this: “as the flower of the grass he shall pass away” “For the sun is no sooner risen….but it withereth the grass” In the desert places of Palestine if there is a shower of rain, the thin green shoots of grass will sprout. But, one day’s burning sun will make them vanish. It came straight from the deserts. It burst on Palestine like a blast of hot air when opening an oven. In an hour it could wipe out all vegetation.
So also shall the rich man fade in his ways. James writes these descriptive ills to show how a life dependent upon riches can fail. True wisdom is to put trust in things that cannot fail. The rich, to James, should rejoice in this new humility of their “dependence” upon something, God.
Pastor Chance Strickland
Harpeth Baptist Church
Kingston Springs, TN