"Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits."
|The green "grass" is actually crabgrass, a weed thriving among the dying grass.|
Every gardener in the south fights a battle with crabgrass, an invasive weed that tries to take over the yard. It seems no matter how hard one tries to rid his lovely grasses of the pesky weed, his fight is still on. I learned something very interesting though, about crabgrass; when other grasses of the field have withered up and died, it becomes a very tasty treat for cattle. They thrive on it, and it actually has a sweet taste to them. They eat more and even gain more weight than when grazing on other summer grasses and grains.
Aha! I see a lesson here! As I thought about the crabgrass, the unloved and often rejected member of grass society, it reminded me of the poor in James 1 as compared to the rich. Let's say that the rich are the costly grasses that the farmer so painstakingly planted. They have their day of glory: when conditions are right, they thrive while the poor (crabgrass) struggles to make it. Interesting isn't it, that both struggle through their own trials. But life has its turns.
The rich stand to lose infinitely more, and their struggles are so much more severe. As providence would have it, last night our speaker at church preached on overindulgence. One of his propositions was that overindulgence will leave you loathing what you love and loving what you hate. (I wonder if that's how the farmer feels once the grasses he has planted begin to die and the crabgrass pops up, still available for food for the animals?) But back to the planted grass. Every gardener who has experienced the death of his rich grass because of the crowding out of the crabgrass understands this concept. Here today, gone tomorrow. Just as the grass begins to dry up and fall to the ground, just as its beauty perishes, so does the wealth of the wealthy. For those who have experienced that trial, I'm sure it is a great one.
The poor can exalt though, because God has purpose for them. They have no worries about losing things, about who will get their inheritance. Their struggles may be less severe than those of the rich. In the end, they are better off. And somehow I see them somewhat like the crabgrass. They have their struggles, but they also have great purpose. And again, as we look at the trials of both, we realize that only in the midst of them does our true purpose shine.
So what in the world does all that mean for me? The first part of verse 9 uses the word "boast." So in what am I to boast? A great verse comes to mind:
"But let him who boasts boast in this,
that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD
who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”
Boasting in the Lord,