I have found myself to be very predictable. For example, when I shave every morning (which I hate doing for the record), I always start under my right sideburn. When I brush my teeth, I always start in the front and move to the back upper left (I am sure you are all reading this with rapt attention at this point). With more important things in life I am equally predictable. If I am in deep trouble, I will pray in faith believing that God can do for me what I cannot do for myself. Sad to say, when God answers prayer, I predictably fall right back into a life that lacks fervency in prayer.
When I have a financial need, or a health need, I am on my knees begging God for help. When that financial crisis has passed, or the health issue is resolved, I fall right back into my lazy pattern of prayer. This really bothers me. I have noticed that some of the most dangerous times in my life are the times that follow incredible successes. The reason I think that this is true, is because it is during these times of prosperity that I begin to depend on my own abilities, rather than totally surrendering to God.
Today I want to share the warning that James gave us in chapter one. “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways” (James 1:9-11).
I believe that James is not writing against people who have monetary blessings. I believe he is warning against placing the value of your life on what you have in your bank. The brother of low degree will be exalted. The brother who has money and places his feeling of worth in his bank account, will see that go with the wind at some point. My father always told me that you will not see a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer. In other words, when your life is over, it will not matter what is left in your bank account.
Many reading this today might say, “Whew! He’s not talking about me … I don’t have any money!” I believe the principle that James is teaching here reaches far deeper than our money. I believe he is warning anyone who depends more on themselves than they do on God. A person of low degree knows they need the help of God. A person who has riches is easily tempted to trust their riches. The warning is clear in these verses. In challenges, or in successes, it is vital that we remain humble, and depending upon our God for everything.