How the Humility of Trials Can Lift Us Up
So far, reading and studying along in the first chapter of James has been pretty cut and dry. I am following the thought process of James and then, I hit verses James 1:9-11.
Wait, what?! I’m stumped by what seems like a slight diversion.
Does this happen to you too?
Before learning to study with the app, I might have just kept on reading, missing the discovery God wanted to show me in these three verses. Instead, I slow down, even stop and take a more in-depth look at these verses IN CONTEXT.
James has just been talking to persecuted (and poor) Christians about enduring through trials and how they should ask for wisdom with faith. Now he contrasts those who are poor-either in spirit (from persecution or trial), or literally poor financially (and many of the early Christians were indeed poor).
Look at Two Lives Contrasted
The Brother of Humble Circumstances
He is to GLORY (boast, exult) in his HIGH POSITION! What a backwards statement compared to the way the world works!
The Lord elevates those and gives dignity to the humble.
“Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” James 4:10
The Rich Man
He is to glory in his HUMILIATION! Again, backwards from the world.
Verse 11 explains that the life and rewards of the rich man are fleeting, temporary and destructible. If the rich man is attentive to this fact, then he will know that his being made low is in recognition that his riches cannot extend his life or gain the approval of God.
Jesus said, “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19: 24
How Should I Live in Light of This Contrast?
It would seem James tucks these three little verses in as a reference and reminder to Jesus’ teaching! Jesus taught a great deal about the poor, the rich, money and humility.
In Matthew 6:24 (and Luke 16:13), Jesus said, “”No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
James seems to mirror this teaching here and when you look at this contrast again, it’s another way of saying we cannot be double-minded.
We cannot be poor and long for money more than we long for God. We cannot love our riches more than we love God.
While my lack of money has nothing to do with my POSITION in Christ, an abundance of money can certainly keep me from walking closely with Him.
And even though I don’t ask for a life of poverty or persecution, I want the state of my heart to be humble and low next to the One who is my Lord and King.
As I study this tiny section of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit convicts me that I need to simplify, learn to do without, and strip down some of the things in my life.