What's Your Status? James 1:9-11
Do Not Doubt
Welcome back to the third in a series on Life Lessons from the Book of James.
Were you challenged by our last study in James 1:5-8 titled NO DOUBTING? Did you catch the futility of asking God for wisdom when you have no Faith? Sometimes we are blind to the obvious because our thinking is legalistic.
We do what we have been taught. We ritualistically pray without any thought of our heart condition. "Without faith, it is Impossible to please God." Hebrews 11:6 No doubting is what's required when we go to God in the midst of a storm.
Today, let's take a look at just three verses.
My desire is to make the teaching and application simple and bite-sized. If you are following along, I want you to know that I value your insights; please add whatever God reveals to you through these three verses.
- 9 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.
- 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wildflower.
- 11 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 man will fade away even while he goes about his business.
What's Your Status?
The Who's Considered
These three verses lead us to examine our status and our response to our status in life. The one who sees life as ending at the time of death is shortsighted. He fails to see eternity. Like it or not, acknowledge it or ignore it, the fact is that each of us will face eternity after our time on earth is done.
In verse 9 James addresses those who are considered poor. He tells them that they should take pride in their high position rather than hanging their identity on their cultural status.
What high position does this verse refer to? Is it a natural response to take pride in anything when finding yourself in need or in a desperate circumstance? No. Pride in our position is not likely to be felt or experienced when comparing yourself with those who seemingly thrive while you merely survive.
In verses, 10-11 James contrasts the condition of the poor brother to the one who possesses material wealth and prosperity. The 'winners' in the eyes of the world are those who are wealthy and 'seemingly' enjoying the good life.
The wealthy people of this world receive recognition, prestige and honor in the eyes of man. In these verses, the rich of this world are told to take pride in their lowly position. What is this lowly position? In the end, on the cusp of eternity, the wealthy of this world will die just like the poor man. Both will give an account to the Creator.
As we converge into a new subject matter, let's once again take a hike back to the preceding verses to view them in the proper context.
By doing this you will be less likely to come up with a wrong interpretation of scripture. Always read what is before and after the verse. Don't just pick a verse out of the middle of a book and claim it for your own purposes.
You can make the Bible say anything you want it to if you do not keep it in context. It is God's word and we want to hear from Him.
James 1:9-11 Shows us how to view our status in this world. Remember that the topic is still about trials. What is your status in this world? Follow along and let's take a closer look at the response we are told to have when facing the trials unique to our status.
There are distinctive trials known only to the poor of this world. The rich man faces his own set of temptations and trials - each must learn HUMILITY in their circumstances.
"The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7
I will list the verse and give it back to you in my own words.
James 1:9 - "Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them."
A believer who finds himself in the midst of financial devastation, uncertainty or chaos is told he has something to boast about; God has honored him. He is assured that his status, according to the world, does not define who he is. The one who knows Jesus has riches far greater than gold and silver. He has the assurance that God cares for and loves Him. The end of his life on earth will usher in a whole new status. The poor believer finds JOY when connecting the dots between his temporary pilgrimage and his eventual eternal reward.
Here on earth we may be judged by our status and considered poor, worthless, stupid or as one who has no value, but as the key verse says, God looks at the heart.
When a believer goes to his Father God to ask for wisdom in the midst of financial devastation - He claims the promises of God. Phil 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Does that mean God will rain down money from Heaven? Not necessarily, but it does mean He will supply ALL of our NEEDS.
The child of God has the assurance that he belongs to the King of the Universe, who has promised to meet all his needs. Father God, as the faithful potter, sometimes has to put us on the wheel and chip away our wants to get us to our needs.
The child of God also has the assurance of an eternity in Heaven. His son Jesus has gone to prepare a place for those who trust in Him. We also know that Jesus considers us of more value than all the riches on earth.
We were bought with a price, the blood of Jesus. 1 Peter 1:18-19 "For you must realize that you have been ransomed from the futile way of living passed on to you by your traditions, but not by any money payment of this passing world. No, the price was, in fact, the lifeblood of Christ, the unblemished and unstained lamb of sacrifice." Jesus gave His all to redeem us and guarantee us, after our journey on Earth is complete, a secure and forever home with Him.
The Rich will Pass Away
James 1:10 "But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position. He will pass away like a wild flower."
The believer who possesses material wealth with all its advantages is more apt to get a big head. It is essential that the rich believer remember that he is no different than any other person. He too will pass away.
The rich man must also revel in the fact that Jesus died for him. He knows he has been entrusted with wealth by God, who owns it all. He also knows he can't take it with him. His hope, just like the poor man, lies in everlasting life.
It is very hard for the rich to put their trust in God. Riches give false security and can get in the way of seeing Father God as our one hope in a lost world. In fact, the Bible says: "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." Luke 12:48.
The rich man's position and material possessions are so temporary. The rich are brought low by the realization that riches, prestige and the respect that accompanies them mean nothing in the light of eternity. Our time on earth is as a mere speck on the line of eternity which goes on and on and has no end. Riches are temporary and as James illustrates, they are just like a delicate little wildflower which withers away. Lovely one day and gone the next.
YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU
James 1:11 "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 man will fade away even while he goes about his business."
Riches do not last. You can't take it with you. If you put your hope and identity in material prestige and wealth you need a wake-up call. It's all temporary. Wealth will disappear just like the wildflower that fades away. The rich man must examine his heart asking questions like, 'Do I strive to look good before man, or is my life a reflection of God's mercy and blessing?' 'Do I puff up and expect others to bow down in respect for 'my' achievements?' 'Is it my goal to obtain a name in this world?'
There are those who invest everything they have in gaining wealth. They bask in the respect and distinction that sets them apart from the rest. Those riches and the 'beauty' of the lifestyle are nothing less than smoke and fire. Those who put their confidence in riches live in a state of false security. All of the riches and amenities will soon disappear. In fact, the rich man will die right beside the poor man. If the rich man has invested himself in the pursuit of prestige and wealth alone what then?
Poor or Rich?
Poor in This World Rich in God's Eyes
,Step 6: Application - What Does it Mean to Me?
James 1:9 "The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position."
It's all about perspective. If I compare myself with others who are 'better-off' in material ways than me, I will always come up lacking and wanting. This world is not my home, I'm just passing through. The Potter is at work in my life, shaping me and forming me through trials.
When I view life with God lenses I get excited and feel amazed that the King of the Universe, the Great I am called me His child and promised me everlasting life. Allowing discouragement to enter my thinking is to fail to see my life with eternity in view. God allows trials in our lives and if the trial is too little money, then I must not be distressed or allow this circumstance to define who I am.
THE WILDERNESS JOURNEY
As I shared in the last study my husband and I went through some very deep waters. Financially we were in drowning as if being pulled down a funnel leading to disaster. Emotionally, we were hanging on by a thread, spiritually our hearts searched for understanding.
God revealed that He had us in the wilderness. He stripped away financial security and some people I had held so dear. I felt hopeless because there was no solution in sight. Financially, I did not know how we would make it. I looked at some of my wants as needs. For years I did not buy clothing, make-up etc. I could not even face entering a store, other than to grocery shop. During this time God in his tender and patient way revealed to me that He was meeting all my needs (in miraculous ways) and when those other things were stripped away, I saw HIM more clearly.
GOD IS MY CONSTANT
No matter what I face on earth, God has promised never to leave me. He is ever-present. He will not leave me helpless or alone. Not ever! "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear," Psalm 46:1b - 2a As I put my hope in God and God alone my heart is renewed and my faith soars far above the Eagles. "Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth." (Psalm 73:25)
Oh, How I love the Lord.
POOR IN THIS WORLD RICH IN GOD'S EYES
Also in this verse about the poor, I take pause to examine my heart. As I view believers around me who are in destitute positions God never fails to speak to me, 'Look closely child and learn.' I must always look at the heart of the person.
All through my life God has directed me to those whom the world has judged as unworthy. Many times I am astounded to find great riches stored inside the man of poverty. His teeth may be rotted, her dress sloppy or hair unkempt, but as I reach out to know my brother or sister in Christ, a wellspring of wisdom, kindness, humility and more is revealed.
An Eternal Perspective
James 1:10 "But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower."
In my lifetime, I have known only three wealthy couples who remained humble and seemingly unaffected by their wealth and prestige. God says we cannot serve Him and money. "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." Matthew 6:24
These three families shared the beautiful gift of generosity. Wealth did not own them, but their money was used as tools to help others and glorify God. These families shared a great sense of obligation to God for the trust that He placed in them. "When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more, will be required" Luke 12:48
If you are like me, you have observed that wealthy people use their money to fill their own lives with pleasure. It is all too easy to rest on your laurels and use your status and privileges without regard to anyone but yourself.
RICHES GREATER THAN SILVER OR GOLD
As I consider James words of wisdom concerning riches, I think of all of the areas that God has blessed me. I have been given a husband who loves me unconditionally and children who love me and honor me. Is that not far better than money? I have been blessed with wise friends. They encourage me and lift me up in times of need. I have been allowed to minister to children, teens, singles, couples, all in different walks of life. These are riches greater than silver or gold.
I WAS LOST
I was delivered from a dysfunctional home and into God's family at the age of 15. My life changed from hopelessness to one filled with meaning and purpose. I was lost, afraid and very wounded when Jesus called me to be a part of His family.
In Him, I found a love like I never knew before. Jesus faithfully heals all my wounds. I am rich in a multitude of ways. As God entrusts me with this type of richness, I must be quick to pass it forward. I strive to please Him with the riches of His blessings in my life. Anything He bestows to me is a gift that is to be shared and not hoarded for my own pleasure.
James 1:11 "For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business."
GUARD YOUR HEART
As I think upon the truth in this verse I hear a warning: Guard your heart. Keeping an eternal perspective is essential in being used of God. Though money looks attractive and gives opportunities in this world, it has no value in the world to come.
Keeping perspective is to live my life to glorify the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. To guard my heart means to value God's gifts and view my brothers and sister's like God's treasures. To be forever thankful for the gift of His Son. He didn't have to sacrifice His one and only son, but He did because that's how much He loves you and that's how much He loves me.
Testing and Temptations - James 1:12-15
The next Study on Life Lessons from The Book of James will lead us to a consideration of Testings and Temptations. I pray that God will give you what you stand in need of as you follow along and apply the truths of this study.