Summary: James teaches about the temporary nature of material things...
A Study of the Letter of James
August 28, 2013
Read Scripture: James 1:9-11
9Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. 10And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. 11The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.
When springtime comes it is a true joy to look out the window and see the grass turn green and lush and our yards become a thing of beauty...
The same goes for the flowers and blooming bushes that we all enjoy each spring and summer here in LA... I know that I love the blooming Azaleas and seeing the lush grass in my yard...
But what begins to happen in late October or early November? We begin to see the grass die out... the flowers stop their blooming. Now because of our climate we rarely ever see our grass totally die off, but we can tell when it is NOT thriving!
Here in this passage James is comparing the withering of the grass or the fading of the flowers to the temporary nature of “material” things!
We all see the grass turn green in the spring and we see it flourish and become lush and green all summer. BUT no matter how much we try to keep it that way, it will not last… it simply cannot last!
This is what James is saying with his comparison to ‘material’ things. He is teaching us that JUST like the grass will wither away… the material things of this world will not last!
The material things we place so much value upon are JUST like that...These material things in which many of us find our identity and believe we ARE what we have…
These material ‘things’ can and do bring pleasure for a season...In these material things we may find satisfaction and 'beauty' for a time, but in time their beauty fades and the satisfaction we once found in them is gone! Material goods/things do not last.
I believe that James uses the term 'Rich' here because in his time the ‘rich' had the material wealth! They had those extra ‘things’!
During this time and for MUCH of human history there have been those who have what they desire and then there were the rest of the people!
There was no 'middle class' in James’ day and the rich tended to NOT want to be poor so they held onto STAYING rich even if it meant preying on the poor to do so...
Now YOU may think or say, "Preacher this is not speaking to me, I am NOT rich! I work hard, but I’m not rich!" It may be true that in our society you may NOT be considered 'rich' but in the eyes of the world ALL of America, even our poorest people are rich!
Statistics prove out that even the poorest people in America are in the top 10% of wealth in the world! Did you know that in America if you make $23,550 or less per year… you are considered to be poor and living below the ‘poverty line’!
When we break that down it is a little less than $2000/mo or $500/wk. I will admit in our society, that is not a lot of money…
BUT lets compare those numbers with the numbers we find in 2 other countries! First let’s look at our neighbor to the south, Mexico: The average minimum wage earner in Mexico will work 6 days/wk and they make about $4.00/day. This equates to less than $2000 PER YEAR!
Let’s look at INDIA: Statistics reveal that OVER 40% of the population in India makes LESS than the 'international poverty level' of $1.25/day. If we set their wage at $1.25/day & they worked 6 days/wk this would equal about $500 PER YEAR!
Now compare those countries to our country… To the people in India, Mexico is looking good! But America is the dream country… every one dreams of coming to America to succeed!
Our country is focused on getting things and consuming things... our culture constantly bombards us with the message that these things are what will bring us happiness. To many in America, 'things' equate to happiness...
But as we look here in v9-11 of chapter 1, James lets us know that those who rely on material things are going to be greatly disappointed! However, those who rely on God are going to find honor from Him!
What we MUST understand and keep in focus is that God is our sufficient Savior! In Him, we find provision and He is all we need. So the question for believers should be... "When will we make the decision to begin to live our lives seeking Him first and NOT the things and materialistic lusts of our hearts?"