James Chapter 1 verses 9 thru 11 say using the New Revised Standard version of the Bible, “ Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. For the sun rises with the scorching heat and withers the field, its flower falls, and it beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich, in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away”
Here the discussion is revolving around earthly riches and also beauty which can be taken away as well.
A corollary verse to this is from Isaiah Chapter 1 verse 30 and 31 which say, “ For you shall be like an oak whose leaf withers, and like a garden without water. The strong shall become like tinder, they and their work shall burn together, and no one can quench them.
From the verses in the book from Isaiah, there are individuals for whom the displeasure is linked with their work, they did have an initial strength which apparently could have been used for good works and their misuse of this strength is parcel to their adverse judgment, had they not had the strength they would have been better off. The oak is a tree that indicates strength, and the garden a flourishing, like say the Garden of Eden.
The believer spoken of in these verses of James becomes in some way rich through the relationship of belief in the Lord and this raising up is something to actually boast of, as something done for him or her as a consequence of and within their belief. The boast is not in themselves, but what the relationship is doing for them.
At the same time, there is a group of rich people who avoid the type of withering away described in both James and the verses in Isaiah.
They may have been headed into the path of destruction, but their loss of wealth actually was favor that helped them turnaround and get back into the presence of the Lord and avoid this withering that they may have otherwise found themselves in. So losing their riches, was something to boast of as much as the believer who was rich but lost in some ways within that and was brought out of that lost path before it was too late.
The word busyness is used in James, and this of course can be an issue for anyone, there is a need it seems to keep busy and most people often feel better and more justified is they are busy. And the concept of work becomes possibly more paramount than it is supposed to be, because it can be withered with the very next rising of the sun. The verses of course are not quite specific as to what and how this can be, but there apparently became a standoffish stance, where these busy rich people kept their total focus on these riches and felt fortified within them, and they should have been taken more lightly, seen as something maybe to enjoy but not to nearly worship or substitute in for the presence of the Almighty God, who controls that sun that can upon his command scorch anything on the earth. They might have been fairly busy in obtaining these riches and maintaining them, and then imputed that even being more busy must be better, and then the heeding of the voice of the wilderness, was lost and they stopped paying attention to the ways of the Spirit which should have remained within the world of riches they had now.
From the words in Isaiah, they didn’t just work, they became there work and then lost their identity to the Kingdom of God.
These verses aren’t of course saying that it is wrong to be rich or that is it wrong to work, but these means affect spiritually and ultimately how it is approached, can become dangerous and a trap that results is total loss of everything altogether. These rich people not only lost their riches, but they lost everything.
We do know from the verses of James, that it is not the worst thing in the world to lose riches, as those who lost them were considered in fact lucky and fortunate. But this also means that there is a lot more to lose than riches and what they would have lost along with their riches, was a far greater loss than just riches and therefore their good fortune in losing the riches. And the riches could of course be brought right back if the people would now understand how to deal with them.
If someone lost their ticket for the trip on the Titanic, this loss in retrospect would have been very fortunate and yet they could have gotten a ticket for another seemingly great thing in the future and it might be okay.
If for example you are conducting business in Spain as a Spanish citizen, you pay attention to your business but not to the extent that you forsake your citizenship and forget that you are in Spain. You don’t forget where you came from.
In Isaiah, there seems to be a total tie together with those being judged and their work, but they are the ones themselves who initiated this total tie together, it wasn’t forces upon them.
These verses caution against a type of busyness, and shows the center has to be elsewhere to a degree, and it may be necessary to stop or at least slow down and find that center. And that center is not to get back to riches, but what is most important at all times and in all situations
Beauty is also mentioned here. Beauty found in a person, physical, the beauty of form, the beauty of voice, even say beautiful hair on the head, is all a gift from the Lord that CAN be taken away in a moment’s notice. While it should be recognized as a gift, it shouldn’t be dealt with in a way that it becomes more than, that is more than the center that needs to be found and maintained. This reference to beauty in these same passages, brings back to a degree riches, which may be seen as totally earned yet they would fall more in the category of beauty, gifts that should only be seen as gifts and not used to fortify oneself outside the kingdom, in that outside of the kingdom all can be lost in basically a day, or one rising of the sun.
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