James 1:9 Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, 10 and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.
Many of the new believers were of lowly estate, meaning they were not persons of wealth or power. They were among the lower classes in their world – slaves, servants, laborers, tax collectors, fishermen, and so on. Yet, claimed as children of God by grace through Christ Jesus, they would inherit God’s kingdom for eternity. Conversely, people of wealth enjoyed privilege in this short life, but it would not last. Rather earthy wealth would “wither away”.
I know most of us don’t consider ourselves materially rich, but we are – particularly if we think globally. And as persons blessed with abundance it’s easy for us to get caught up in our stuff. We can spend enormous amounts time and energy acquiring and maintaining our stuff, to the exclusion of other priorities. I know I’m guilty of this to some degree.
One of the interesting narratives about of the Millennial generation (born in 1980 through roughly 2000) is their perceived value on simplicity. Studies suggest Millennials don’t want to be slaves to their stuff as they perceive their parents’ generation to be. They see older adults working themselves to exhaustion in order to buy things they rarely enjoy, and in so doing neglect their loved ones (namely, their Millennial children).
While stereotypes are often inaccurate in many ways, particularly when compared to specific persons, they persist because they possess an element of truth. Our passage for today reminds me that I must always be conscious of where I invest my time and attention. Am I investing myself in things that are eternal or on things that are here today and gone tomorrow?
Heavenly Father, you lavish us with material provision for which we are grateful. Give us grace that we might never lose sight of the things that matter most. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.