Our verse counsels two important lessons for those who are rich. Whether or not this describes you, the two lessons are worth noting.
First, it is never a good thing to be proud and haughty. It is wrong to look down on others or despise those who, for whatever reason, seem beneath you in status or importance. In God’s sight all people are equal, made in His image – although that image may be marred by sin and its effects.
Traditionally, the rich would look down on the poor, often exploiting them. In James chapter 2 verses 5 and 6 we read about those who were poor being despised by rich men who would drag them into the courts for whatever reason. Also in chapter 5 verse 1 those who have become rich by exploiting their workers are roundly rebuked and told of a day of reckoning coming. Sadly, in many places down through history such exploitation has been common.
Second, riches are unstable things with an inbuilt uncertainty about them. They are not trustworthy or reliable for the future; only God is. In a world of changing political forces and unpredictable economics we know that financial institutions can collapse, stock markets fluctuate wildly, interest rates are unsteady, inflation is inevitable, and individuals in positions of trust do not always behave with integrity. So it is not a good idea to build your hopes on riches or put your trust in them.
It is better to trust in the living God and His promises. Presently, He “gives us richly all things to enjoy”. Every good gift we have now comes from Him, “with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). And for the future, after life is over and riches have to be left behind, a place in heaven is ours through trusting Him who cannot lie or change His mind. “Justified by faith, we have peace with God” and “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).