Speaking to the Soul – September 4

Believers who are poor

Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honoured them. And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. James 1:9-10

The Bible often invites us to think through the biggest question of all: Where can we find true wealth? James was clear about the answer. The most valuable thing in the world is to know God and to be a citizen of heaven. Nothing can possibly get better than that.

James encouraged his poor Christian friends to understand just how honoured and blessed they were. Most of James’ readers were probably poor. We know that there had been a famine in the area at around this time, and Christians were living under constant persecution, with all the limitations and difficulties that produced. Times were hard, but James wanted to encourage them to understand their true status. They had something to boast about because of their eternal security in God.

At the same time, James wanted those who were rich to understand that their true wealth lay in their relationship with God. They needed to recognise that, in all humility, their human possessions ultimately counted for nothing. As Job observed: “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave” (Job 1:21). James was concerned that the wealthy Christians in the church focussed on the things that endure, not on temporal possessions. As Sophocles wisely observed long before the time of Christ: “Wealth has wings”.

In our money-mad society, it is very important that we go into each day being quite clear about where true wealth is to be found. If we believe that the greatest wealth is to be found in knowing Jesus personally, and that making money and acquiring possessions is of the least importance, it is bound to affect almost everything we say and do. It will obviously affect the way we spend our money, but it will also shape our thinking about our careers, our relationships and the way we use our time.

How does James’ teaching about wealth help you in your own understanding of wealth?

Loving God, thank you for the privilege of knowing you. Help me to seek your kingdom before anything else. Amen