To those who need to be reminded of the brevity of life and the insignificance of earthly riches.
“Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits” (James 1:9-11).
This passage couldn’t be any more needed during this time of year. It’s almost Christmas, and everyone is rushing around spending hundreds of dollars to get their shopping done. At the same time, we are telling others what items we would like to have for Christmas. You can almost picture James standing in front of Walmart reminding us while we walk in that riches don’t last forever!
But what’s interesting about this passage to me is that James doesn’t focus on the temporariness of money or material things. Instead, he focuses on rich people. Because rich people eventually die, their possessions will belong to someone else one day. This is true for all people, not just the rich. Our houses, our cars, our money, and even our jobs will belong to someone else after we die.
James says that the “rich man will fade away in the midst of his pursuits.” This shows that those who desire to be rich are never satisfied. The rich die in the middle of their pursuit of happiness. So the question we have to ask ourselves is,
“Are we pursuing the riches of this world over the riches of Christ?”
That’s a hard question to wrestle with individually. The good news is that these things are not necessarily wrong in themselves, but they become wrong when we place them above Christ. James reminds us that the lowly should rejoice because God will exalt them one day. As Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).
We must believe that being with God far outweighs the fading excitement of this material world.
Call to Motion
What are some ways that we can fight against the deceitfulness of riches? First, we must examine our hearts. What do we truly desire during this season? New stuff or a deeper walk with God? Satisfying our own fleshly desires or denying ourselves and following Christ? I encourage you to take time and wrestle with these questions.
Second, we must remember what has eternal significance and what does not. The riches of this world are fading away, and Christians should not become trapped in the endless pursuit of worldly pleasure. Money doesn’t last forever, but how we use our money does. Our time on earth is short, but every second spent for Christ has eternal reward.
In the end, Christmas is not about stuff; it’s about Jesus. Jesus became lowly to die for our sins. We celebrate the “humiliation” of God because through Christ, we have been redeemed. The Lord has come.
Father, I confess that I have been swept away in the pursuit of material things during this holiday season. The busyness of Christmas has gotten the best of me. I am wrestling with putting Christ above all else. Give me grace in this journey, and constantly remind me of the treasures of knowing Christ. May this season be all about worshipping You and nothing else. Amen.