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Death like a wildflower

“Now the believer of humble means should take pride in his high position. But the rich person’s pride should be in his humiliation because he will pass away like a wildflower in the meadow. For the sun rises with it’s heat and dries up the meadow and the petal of the flower falls off and it’s beauty is lost forever. So also the rich person in the midst of his pursuit shall wither away.” James 1:9-11

I read an article recently how eight man possess as much wealth as half the world’s population combined. There was a picture of an equal arm balance scale with eight heads on one pan and the globe sliced in half on the other. I could not decide whether I found this amazing or disturbing.

It also mentioned that (not surprisingly) 89% of the world’s millionaires are male, so the rich person for the most part is still a man. In some ways culture has not changed a ton from ancient times although I much prefer being female now than probably at any other time in history.

Disregarding the eight heads and their enormous wealth, I consider myself rich compared to the rest of the world. I’ve not suffered hunger or lack of shelter or other life related hardships. I am fairly wimpy and entitled compared to the rest of the world.

Due to the lack of challenge and danger in my life, I’ve rarely feared dying or even contracting serious illness. I feel sort of invincible and have resources to draw from if I need help. There is a pride in self preservation according to James so if you happen to be on the richer side, it’s worth visiting your own potential for mortality every now and then. The rich person too will die and will likely be more surprised and less flexible with an impending departure from the land of the living.

In James’ times the wealthy were mostly landowners and draws his word picture for death right from the field. James compared the rich person’s death (not his life or the person itself) to a wildflower in the meadow. A common and fragile specimen, beautiful while it lasted but dried up by the sun and fallen to the ground. Not every rich person will die in the midst of their pursuit and some seemingly leave quite a legacy seemingly greater than dried up petals but in the end no one can control the time of their departure. And it’s always too soon.

James does not condone the rich person for being rich but he warns against boasting or elevating oneself above others. It’s fine to be rich, just be humble which apparently is more difficult for the rich.

On the other hand, the of humble means are encouraged to take pride on their position. Another counter-intuitive suggestion although one that’s probably easier carried out than the rich person trying to be humble.

Lastly the observation that believers of humble means exist, meaning your faith or asking does not lead to wealth or even being particularly well cared for which seems disturbing on some levels. Humble means are not a curse and in the great upside down kingdom of God, they are even considered something to be proud of.

In conclusion:

  1. If you are rich, ponder your mortality from time to time. It will help keep you humble, a virtue according to James.
  2. If you are not rich you won’t need that reminder. Embrace your hardship with dignity and grace and don’t envy that withering flowereloquent-immortelle-197051_1920

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