“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 heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.” James 1:9–11
None of us are as we may seem on the outside.
Circumstances may dictate that a poor person dress and live in such a way that his or her status as a child of God is almost completely hidden from view. Looking at them you’d never imagine that their Heavenly Father is the Lord of the universe, the possessor of the wealth of countless worlds, and that they are heirs to an inheritance beyond reckoning.
At the same time outward appearances may give the message that the wealthy person is blessed by God, and by their healthy glow, properly fitted clothing that’s not over worn, they could be the poster child for what we’d imagine that a child of God ought to look like.
But in this world it’s not the outward appearances that accurately display the true wealth of the individual. It’s the condition of the heart combined with the promises and declarations of our Heavenly Father.
Because of this a poor person, dressed in rags and emaciated by hunger, may because of their devotion to their Heavenly Father, rejoice in their status as children of the King of Kings. And in this they may take hold of joy and peace and hope that would have been unavailable had they had no assurance of the divine elevation afforded to them.
The wealthy are instructed to exalt in their humiliation. For the poor life is perpetually difficult with only brief seasons of comfort. For the rich life is often comfortable with only brief seasons of hardship. Just as the comfort affords the poor with a taste of their connection with their Heavenly Father so trials give the wealthy evidence of their connection with their lowly, toiling, suffering Savior.
For both the wealthy and the poor our present circumstances are temporary. In this life fortunes can change, poor can become rich and rich can become poor. Ultimately, when our redeemer comes to gather those who have chosen him as their savior, we’ll all be elevated to the position and situation we hope for.
Until then let the poor rejoice in the elevation their hope in Christ gives them and let the rich rejoice that they have been invited to suffer with Christ in his labors in this world.