James 1:10 (NIV): But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower.

Why should the rich take pride in their humiliation?

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Let's see the parallelism in James 1:9-10a

Believers in humble circumstances   ought to take pride   in their   high position. 
but the      rich                     should take pride   in their   humiliation

This is a contrast between the humble and the rich. James reminds the humble people to know their high position in Christ and the rich people to know their humiliation in God's eyes.

James emphasizes the heavenly/vertical perspective. Horizontally speaking, riches are transient as he further explains:

9b since they [the rich with their material wealth] will pass away like a wild flower. 11For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

Near the end of his letter, he again emphasizes the transient nature of physical things in James 4:14

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Rich people should not take pride in their riches. Instead, they should take pride in their humility in Christ who has graciously saved them. Their riches cannot save them.


James 1:10: Why should the rich should take pride in their humiliation?

The Greek word for in "ἐν" is a primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality (medially or constructively). Thus to boast in one's humility isn't boasting about one's humility, but boasting in positional relationship to one's humility. The rich person, when he boasts, should keep in mind his humble position - that he is like grass and perishes like grass.


James 1:10: Why should the rich take pride in their humiliation?

James 1:10 (NIV): But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wildflower.

A rich man that has become a Christian now realizes that it is a waste of time to try to amass material wealth, all this passes away. James knows that wealth will not increase his life span and so states: " For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so also the rich person, in the midst of his pursuits, will die out."[ James 1:11 NASB]

Mark 4:19 NASB

19 but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things enter and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

The verse basically states that the anxieties of the world and the alluring pleasures of wealth choke the spiritual things, and thus a Christian may become unfruitful and so fail to gain entry into the kingdom of God. (Read the parable of the sower Matthew 13:1-9)

2 Corinthians 4:18 NASB

18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.


“But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.”

This is a contrast of social and economic positions and how these positions must be regarded by the believer. Now notice, this is not a new thought. What follows is linked to the previous verses by the conjunctive δέ meaning 'but', or 'on the other hand.' James uses this word five times between verses 4-10 to build one argument atop another.

A. The brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his exalted position in Christ. This exalted position is not achieved on the basis of wealth or the lack thereof.

B. The rich man is to glory in his humiliation.

This position is achieved in spite of his wealth. This is not necessarily talking about his wealth being taken away, but it does not exclude it either. While being divested of wealth and forced into a life of poverty may prove to be a very difficult trial for one, it may not prove to be so for another. For still another, his wealth itself may prove to be a trial. For the rich man to whom wealth is truly of no importance one way or the other, trials may come in any number of different forms.

  1. Earthly wealth and prominence are strictly earth bound, transitory, and fleeting. Wealth and social prominence give them no special sanding before the Lord. These conditions do not extend beyond the grave. The rich still die just like the poor. These things are characterized by James as fading beauty. Earthy wealth cannot provide the spiritual benefits of trials, nor do they exempt one from trials.

  2. In the Lord, the humble are exalted and the exalted are humbled.

This represents an upheaval of the social and economic status quo. This is what Jesus said would take place in the woes of Luke 6:24-26. “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.”

In the body of Christ, the poor and the rich are brought together on the common grounds of faith, both sharing equally in humility, exaltation, and trials, which is represented here as “humiliation, the rising of the sun, and scorching wind.” Trials beset and assail both poor and rich alike. Both share in the sufferings of trials and the benefits of endurance. Both have equal access to wisdom from the Lord. These things are neither received nor withheld on the grounds of social or economic status. The poor are not denied exalted position and the rich are not immune to humiliating experiences.


The rich should take pride in their humiliation because money DOES NOT rule in the Kingdom of God, only love. Hallelujah! The humiliation of the rich will more than ensure that, so their humiliation is a very good thing. If the rich were to ever become poor, that means they would be vulnerable to oppression, debasement, humiliation, and exploration at the hands of the rich. No rich person would EVER want to be put in that position. However, in the Kingdom of God, it will be impossible to hurt other people. Impossible. It will be safe to be poor.

The successful folks will still be able to work hard and serve people with their talents, skills, and gifts, but never again will relationships be marked by economic disparities. We will be absolutely equal. The greatest will be like a slave to all.

If the rich were not destroyed, nothing would change. But they will be destroyed, God repeatedly says that. As a class, they will cease to exist. They will never again have economic power over others. They will never again be stumbling blocks to others.

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.-1 John 2:15

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.-Matthew 6:24

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have.-Hebrews 13:5a

For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.-Luke 18:25

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.-Luke 12:33

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.-1 Tim 6:10

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.-Luke 6:20

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?-James 2:5

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor.-2 Corinthians 8:9a

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them.-Isaiah 41:17

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.-Ezekiel 15:49

He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.-Proverbs 13:41

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.-Proverbs 19:17

The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.-Proverbs 22:9

But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.-Luke 6:24

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.-Revelation 3:17

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.-James 5:1

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.-Daniel 12:2

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