Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For 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. (James 1:9-11, NLT)
On the surface, the apostle James appears to string together several independent lines of thought, spanning topics such as joy in the midst of trials and the importance of seeking wisdom. If so, then James 1:9-11 would be interpreted as a statement about wealth and poverty and could be understood to mean that those who are poor are better people than those who have abundance. While Jesus spoke often about the burdens of wealth and the blessing of poverty, I don’t think this is the point James is attempting to prove.
I think the point of these verses is that we should walk with humility. Humility, in either case, is achieved by maintaining an eternal focus and recognizing our material wealth in light of that. For those who were financially oppressed, they could look to eternity and realize that in heaven the playing field is leveled. Humility can only be accomplished when we see God as our sole source of provision.
On the other hand, those who are blessed with abundance also need to live with humility, recognizing that God is the one who grants the blessings they enjoy. Humility requires the same dependence upon God, and adds the responsibility of sharing with those who are in need. In many ways, it is harder for those with abundance to live their lives in daily dependence upon God.
Our sole basis for confidence in this life is our identification with Christ. The temporal and material will fade away, therefore believers must guard against overvaluing their present blessings. We are more than our balance sheets.