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 (NKJ)
With his purple robe flowing behind him, the man sauntered to the window of his lavish bedroom. Narrowing his eyes, he stared at the beggar man, Lazarus, who was sitting at the front gate of the compound.
"Why my gate?" the man complained to his wife. "Why can't he take his disgusting body full of those wretched sores and beg somewhere else? He or his parents must have done something evil for God to punish him so severely."
Turning from the window, the man grabbed his chest falling to the floor. As he took his last breath the haughtiness of his soul was still evident on his face. Lazarus also died that same day. If you continue to read the story from Luke 16:19-25, you will discover the rich man was tormented in Hades while Lazarus was seated with Abraham, which would have been considered a place of distinction.
James and Luke weren't saying all poor people will go to heaven nor are they railing against those who are rich. Basically, it boils down to this: a Christian who is of humble means can rejoice in their position in Christ, knowing they are a child of the King of kings; a Christian who is rich can rejoice in their blessings, but also in humility knowing they will indeed die some day and their wealth will fade away.
Unfortunately, the rich man in Luke 16 lost focus of what was truly eternal. Our significance, regardless of our worldly possessions and position, is found in Christ and in our personal, ongoing relationship with Him. Neither wealth nor position will ever influence God's friendship with us. His love is eternal and we can rest assured in the fact that only what is done in Him and through Him will last.
Application of God's Word:
1. Read Psalm 73:1-9. Like David, do you ever become frustrated when it seems that the rich just get richer and become more prosperous? After all, you are the one who has been faithful to God!
2. Read Luke 16:19-25 and James 1:9-11.
3. Is our relationship with God ever based on our lack or our prosperity? What do you think God is trying to tell you in these passages?
4. "Neither wealth nor position will ever influence God's friendship with us." What does that mean to you?