James gives a nice gift to the poor person. In the game this world plays, poverty is the discard pile. He reminds those who have little, that though the world seems to have little use for them, their poverty can still be useful.
So now he comes to the rich. He’s a blunt man. I expect a “woe to you rich” here. But it’s not really a judgment. It’s just fact. Later James will make a clear distinction between the “good” rich, and the “bad” rich. Here he’s talking about the ones who derive their personal worth from their personal wealth.
If a poor person’s lack of wealth forces a humble spirit then they have heavenly riches. If a rich person loses that humility, and because of the riches, cannot see God through the pile of pursuits – that’s where a problem lies. The godly poor can take note of their high standing…
…and the rich one in his lowliness, for he will pass away “like the flower of the field.” For the sun comes up with its scorching heat and dries up the grass, its flower droops, and the beauty of its appearance vanishes. So will the rich person fade away in the midst of his pursuits. (James 1:10,11)
It’s all about the “pursuits”. If wealth is used to live, and the pursuit remains a pursuit of Our Lord, then the rich have just as high a position as the godly poor. Treasure in heaven is eternal, both rich and poor can invest there.
But someone who has more interest in “pursuits” rather than pursuing God will achieve all their reward here – now – and it will dry up in the blink of an eye. This goes for the poor as well as the rich. The earth knows no difference and it buries everything eventually.
In reading this, I’m reminded that all the material stuff, even the pale blue dot on which we live is temporary. The stuff which gets built on it and derived from it – and let’s admit it, the rich fund most of the building and deriving, even if the work is done by the poor – it’s all temporary.
I’ve admitted that I’m one of the poor. But even though poor, I pursue. I strive to add something to this planet, to make something worthwhile. I’ve found that even those efforts have at times, set themselves up between me and God. And I’ve had to peek over the top to see light.
So no, it’s not just the rich that have this problem with accounting so much worth to “pursuits”. It’s convicting to one day be told I that my poverty can yield a high position, and the next, even though I am not one of the rich, be told I also often occupy the low.
It’s all about the choices,
It’s all about whom I serve.
It’s all about where my treasure is.
“…where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (LK 12:34)