Monday, 10 June 2019
…but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. James 1:10
Here we have the contrast to what the previous verse stated. Taken together, they read –
“Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.”
Just as the lowly brother should glory in his exalted status in Christ, the rich should glory in his lowly status as a fallen being, redeemed solely by the blood of Christ. Thus, he should walk in humility and understand his lowly state. His riches had no part in his salvation, and they mean nothing in God’s sight. They are a temporary blessing from God which he is expected to handle properly. His lowly state is then compared to the “flower of the field.”
God made the flower of the field, and it is beautiful, but it is also extremely temporary. This is just like the rich. God endowed him with his state and, like the flower, “he will pass away.” He will die and return to the dust, just as the poor will.
In this verse, James builds on what is said in Isaiah 40 and on what Jesus said in Luke 12 –
“The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:7, 8
“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?” Luke 12:27, 28
Wildflowers are extremely beautiful and come in an almost infinite number of sizes, colors, and shapes. They demonstrate God’s wisdom, gentleness, and love towards us; and yet they are so transitory that they pass away almost as quickly as they arrive. Their beauty lasts but a moment and then they return to the soil, making compost for the next generation of beauty to rise and be adorned by the morning dew. And this is what James compares the rich to. They are as lowly and transitory as the wildflower of the field. Just as God created the flower’s richness and beauty, so He granted some to be wealthy in this life. But even their wealth is fleeting and their lives are a mere breath. Israel’s wealthiest and wisest king, Solomon, understood this precept –
“Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. 19 And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will rule over all my labor in which I toiled and in which I have shown myself wise under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 2: 18, 19
Life application: If you are poor, or if you are one of the many who are struggling with finances, remember that God ordained your life for His glory. Your continued faith through your temporary lack will be rewarded with eternal abundance in Christ Jesus. In the same manner, if you are in Christ, wealthy, and have been triply blessed, remember that your wealth will see an end and your life will fade into eternity – make sure your priorities lie in the eternal and not in the gold and silver you have here and now.
Surely Lord the lilies of the field reflect Your glory far more than we do. We fight for more money and more possessions rather than opening our hearts like flowers to praise You. Help us to be as beautiful as even the lowliest wildflower – reflecting Your majesty as we live our lives in Your perfect presence. Amen.