Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning wind than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.
What James is stressing for us in these passages is not to let our financial circumstances overshadow our faith in Jesus. Regardless of poverty or wealth we are looking to Christ and the riches we have in Him alone. Moreover, James understands this is difficult for us living in a fallen world. Therefore, we rely not on our own ability to do so, but on the power of the Holy Spirit who indwells us. The brother who is poor can feel exalted knowing the position we have in God’s kingdom because of Jesus. In addition, we all can rejoice in the possession of our salvation given to us by Christ. We know the inheritance we have in God’s kingdom and the eternity which awaits us. It is an inheritance granted to us because of what Jesus did for us at the Cross of Calvary and our adoption as children of God through faith. In addition, the rich should rejoice in their humility, not their wealth. They should do so knowing this dark world which provided their wealth is quickly passing away and in the eyes of God they are no different from the poor.
We are one body, all equal before God, all created in the image of God. Lastly, James uses an example from nature. He is using the example of the seasonal grasses and flowers. These flowers would grow and bloom in February, but are dried up and withered away by the time May arrives. The Greek word used here for the “burning wind” is “kauson” and it means a scorching wind. This was in reference to the hot, scorching desert wind called the “sirocco wind.” This wind blew in from the desert and quickly dried up and destroyed any flowers or plants in its path. James uses this imagery to remind us how quickly the things of this world are passing away. The only riches which we have are those found in Jesus and come to us from God as a result of our faith in Christ. The only thing we have that will last for all eternity is our inheritance in God’s kingdom. An inheritance given not because of what we have achieved in this world, but an inheritance given to us because of God’s grace and our faith in Christ. And lastly, we need to remember with wealth comes greater responsibility, because every follower of Christ, will answer to the Lord as to what we did with what God gave us. We have to remember, that our wealth was never meant by God for us to accumulate more for ourselves, rather all followers of Christ are called to use their time, talents and resources to further the Gospel and help those in need around us.