The Bible rarely has good things to say about riches. The Bible does talk a lot about money, but usually it is warnings for people not to love their stuff more than God. Being rich tends to make people proud and think that they are better than others. Rich people often have trouble realizing that they need God. In our school, many students judge each other based on how much money and how many high-value possessions they and their families have. This is not good. Worshiping wealth hardens our hearts against God and makes it difficult for us to love Him and love each other as we should. Furthermore, even those students who think they are not wealthy are actually very wealthy compared to the rest of America and the world. Rather than seeing our money and stuff as tools to help us serve and glorify God, we turn them into false idols. We evaluate our success by what we have instead of by our love for and obedience to the Lord. This attitude is wrong and very harmful to our souls.
This is why James gives us the seemingly strange teaching that poor believers (those in “humble circumstances”) should be thankful and happy for “their high position” in life. How can a poor person be happy about being poor? Simple. The poor Christians realize that because the riches of this life are usually a barrier to a healthy relationship, they are actually better off having less money and stuff. Worldly possessions disappear quickly. We have them for a brief time on this earth and then are separated from them for all eternity. James compares our stuff to a flower that blossoms pretty in the morning and then burns up and dies in the heat of the afternoon. Therefore, the poor should not envy the rich and the rich should not put their trust in their wealth. Every Christian should instead focus each day on being happy in Jesus, not looking for joy in their stuff. That is our prayer for this entire school.
9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
Questions to Think About
- Do you consider yourself to be “rich”? Why or why not?
- Can you remember a time when you looked down on others because of what they did not have and then felt guilty about it afterwards? What happened?
- Why do you think that the Bible includes so many warnings about the dangers of earthly riches?