James 1:9-11 9 Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, 10 and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away. -NRSV
These verses repeat an important theme in our Christian walk: We should not put our hope in the riches of this world. It might look good to be rich, but it is a beauty that fades with time. I am reminded of Matthew 6:19-20 where we are told to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven rather than treasures on earth. We know that we cannot take earthly treasures with us when we go.
James adds a slight connotation that is brought out in the NRSV*, though, that I think is very important. James writes that the rich will wither away in the midst of a busy life. The pursuit of riches takes hard work, and can easily take over our lives. Whether we are trying to get rich, or be popular, or successful, or whatever else we might value in our earthly lives, we can get so busy trying to reach our earthly goals, that we wither away, and forget what is important. We forget our families. We forget our friends. We forget God. We forget to take time to enjoy the life that God has created for us. We wither away as we go about our business.
Instead, James is reminding us that these earthly goals are not important. Our relationship with God is important. Our lives must be focused on God, and our relationships must reflect God’s love. When we have a good relationship with God, our priorities will fall in line.
Dear God, May I seek to bring Glory to you rather than to myself, and to live my life in such a way as to build up treasures in heaven while taking the time to enjoy the life you have created for me today.
*Other versions of James 1:11b read:
“In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.” -NIV
“so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.” -KJV