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.
(James 1:9-11 ESV)
Not long ago I watched an old cartoon of one of Aesop’s fables entitled “The Tortoise and the Hare.” The fable shares about a race between a very fast rabbit and a very slow turtle. The turtle slowly, but consistently presses on towards the finish line while the rabbit runs ahead and takes a nap, wakes up after the turtle passes him and runs ahead only to stop by a school and impress the students with his speed. While the rabbit is showing off his speed he realizes that the turtle has almost finished the race, but no matter how fast he runs he still ends up coming in second behind the turtle. He had forgotten that the race wasn’t about pure speed, but on who finishes first.
The writer James reminds us that sometimes if we are not careful we can lose our focus on what life is really about. Life is not about becoming wealthy and stacking up possessions. While those things are not evil, they are not eternal. (James compares earthly riches to the fading of the grass.) James says the poor man can boast that Jesus has made him truly rich by bringing him into the Kingdom of God. Sometimes our trials and tough times make it seem like we are losing in life, James reminds us that as long as our focus is on Christ that we are indeed winning.