Both Rich & Poor
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 (ESV)
The readers James is writing to have been displaced from their homes as they have been scattered. The word lowly refers to their financial state. He was talking about those who were poor financially. Also during this time around 60-70 AD there was great famine so most of his readers were not just poor but extremely poor, hungry, and facing great difficulty just to stay alive. He is encouraging them to know that they DO have something to boast about. They are exalted or lifted up because of Jesus. The word exalted means the heavenly realm where Jesus ascended. See Philippians chapter 3.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. – Philippians 3:20-21 (ESV)
He is telling them not to worry about the rich because riches pass away. The rich, if they are right with God will boast in their humiliation. He is not saying that the rich will be judged BECAUSE of their riches. He is not writing from an ironic perspective that they had it good here on earth therefor they will have it hard in the afterlife. No. He is talking to believers both poor and rich. James is giving a warning to the rich and a reminder to not put their faith in their riches because they are not stable like God’s word. They must be constantly on guard and are often humbled by this trial. Wealthy Christians are to constantly remind themselves that while in men’s eyes they are high, they are not high in comparison to God. This becomes a struggle and so to boast in their humility before God may be what James is getting at. Both poor and rich must look at their lives from a godly and heavenly perspective and not a worldly one.
Our perspective needs to be God centered and not world centered. Regardless of if we are rich or poor we all must come back to our true center which can only be found in the heart of Jesus himself. The only true position in which we can boast.
I struggle with these types of verses and looking further into it I now feel more understanding. My wealth or my poverty is there to guide me to my true center: the heart and will of God. Being wealthy has its struggles and difficulties just as being poor does. With constant monitoring of who I am and what my purpose is within God’s will can guide me to true wealth in Christ and my salvation. Money is here on earth as a great trial. I will continue to strive to grow and invest in the LORD’s Wisdom.