Don’t Place Your Hope in Stuff
“9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.” James 1:9-11 NIV
James writes his letter to the church with the heart of a pastor who knew some of the major trials the people faced. He knew that a key testing point in the lives of many of the early Christians would be in the area of finances. In 2,000 years, it seems that believers are still facing the same problems with finances that the early church did. Today, we may not have giant Philistines like Goliath coming to physically attack us, but I don’t think I know any Christ follower who has not wrestled with financial problems. Most of us come across times when we struggle to make ends meet and wonder how, or if God will provide. Other times we may struggle if we are doing well financially. It is a far more subtle struggle, but when we have all that we need, we face the strong temptation to trust in our own riches instead of God.
In James 1:9-11, James the brother of Jesus, gives some practical advice for those times when believers struggle in times of lack or in times of plenty.
1. James’ counsel to those who are lacking – Keep Christ in Focus
If you are lacking in wealth, James advises, trials will serve to remind you that your hope is not found in this world. He reminds believers without much materially, can rest assured and take pride in their identity in Christ. James encourages them that when they don’t have much, trials will remind that the things of this world will pass away so it is critical to hold on to your hope in Jesus.
2. James’ counsel to those who have plenty – Keep Christ in Focus
If you have wealth, or plenty, trials serve to remind you not to put your hope in stuff. It doesn’t matter if you are the wealthiest person that has ever lived James gives the reality check that trials WILL still come. When those trials come, James tells us that they should serve to remind us that this is not our home – there is more to come. James would encourage those with wealth in their pockets to let the trials they endure remind them that they still need to find their hope in Christ alone – and not in their wealth.
Keep Christ in focus.
In the end, this passage serves to remind believers that no matter what our financial situation is on earth, we need to remember that because the Kingdom of God is elevated above the world systems, we can trust that God will elevate us above those systems as well.
If you are in poverty… you must not focus on your lack. Don’t place your hope in stuff. You need to keep your focus on Christ.
If you have wealth… you must not focus on your wealth. Don’t place your hope in stuff. You need to keep your focus on Christ.
Holy Spirit thank You that help me remain humble when I have much, and to keep me focused on You when I have little. Empower me to keep You in focus. In the strong name of Jesus Christ, amen.