Friday 8 March

9 Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, 10and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. 11For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.

Although in relation to the vast majority of people alive on this planet, I am fabulously wealthy, in the context in which I live, my bank account might suggest that I have never really been all that “rich.”

Yet, in this fragile tangible material realm, there are ways in which by any measure, I could not be called anything other than embarrassingly “rich.” I have been, so far, enormously wealthy in my physical condition, rarely sick and, in six decades, never seriously. I am a multi-millionaire in the love of good, kind, beautiful people in my life. I have been rich in a stable, relatively secure, peaceful life. I have been blessed in abundance with a fascinating, rewarding and challenging creative professional life.

But I have always understood, that James articulates an important truth when he writes that if I seek security in any of these blessings, I am setting myself up to be “brought low.” They are all ultimately unreliable. They “will disappear like a flower in the field”. Everything on the horizontal tangible physical plane will “wither away;” it will all “fall”. It will all let me down; its “beauty” will “perish.”  One day my health will falter; I, or the people I love dearly, will die; my career will end.

I must take none of the gifts with which I have been blessed for granted. I did not earn them. I do not deserve them or possess them by my own virtue. They are all the gracious outpouring of a power vastly beyond my control.

I dare not try to capture them, grasp them, or presume upon them. It is only when I am “lowly”, willing to acknowledge that my life is an unearned, undeserved abundant gift, that I will continue to be “raised up.” The more I fall prey to the terrible illusion that I deserve these blessings, the sooner they will “wither away.”