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.
In our world today poverty and wealth can cause us to lose sight of God in our day-to-day lives. Both poverty and wealth can cause us to focus more on this dark world which is passing away than on Jesus. This in turn can cause us to ignore or disregard the promptings and guidance of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we become too consumed with money. James understands that money or the lack thereof can be one of the most chronic sources of major trials in the lives of Christians. Moreover, we know that God is not a respecter of person, but instead, He looks at the hearts of all people. What matters to God is not if we are rich or poor, but what our relationship is with Him through Christ Jesus our Lord. Wealth, in and of itself is not evil, nor bad. What matters is how we earned our wealth and what we do with it after we have earned it. Moreover, James is pointing out the fleeting existence of not only our wealth, but also of the human lifespan.
We have to understand that all followers of Christ are called to use our time, talents and resources to further the kingdom of God and help those in need around us. God never intended for us to hold on to His blessings in order to have more for ourselves. Therefore, here James is contrasting both the poor believer and the rich believer and how money can cause trials in our lives. James uses the Greek word “adelphos” which means brother or more specifically in our case brother in Christ or fellow Christian. James purposely uses this word as a qualifier before introducing the poor and rich person to let us know that he is speaking about fellow believers. In other words, this message is for Christians first and foremost. James is not speaking to non-Christians. In addition, these verses are purposely placed in the middle of the section on facing trials in our walk with God. This further helps us to understand James is speaking to Christians about money and how it can bring trials that will disrupt our faith and hinder our walk with God. Therefore, it is especially important during trials that put our faith in God, keep focus on His word and continue our submission to the guidance of the Holy Spirit who will see us through the trial at hand.