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.
We need to say right away that James is not making any links between Godliness and poverty, or that a rich person cannot be Godly. The Bible never teaches us that you have to be poor to be a Godly, believing person.
James was, however, writing to people who were mostly suffering financially due to their circumstances; who were even being harassed and persecuted by those with wealth. James’ intent is to teach us that wealth is not what we should depend on, or the things of this world; what we are to depend on is the provision of God.
Here James is issuing reminders to both poor and rich brothers and sisters in Christ.
His reminder to the poor is that his poverty is a material one only and that in the eyes and sight of God he has just an exalted position as a rich man in this world. The world and men may have tossed the poor brother aside, but God has welcomed him with open arms. His lot here on Earth may not seem pleasant, but he has an eternal inheritance to look forward to.
James also issues a reminder to the rich brother that, even though he may be wealthy, he should rejoice even in his trials because they show him the temporary nature of his wealth and the permanent nature of what God provides.
Finally, by comparing wealth to withering grass which fades away, James reminds us all that what we may have here is just transitory, but our riches in God’s Kingdom are eternal and secure. This is a reminder that rich or poor, we are all equals by faith in Christ.