A Firm Foundation
James 1:9-11 says “9Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted. 10But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 11For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.”
Throughout the bible we usually see a contrast between the rich and poor, but in these verses we seem to find a parallel. As a means of introduction I will refer you to my recent posts which have dealt a lot with trials which is the context of these verses. With that in mind lets proceed.
The verse starts out referring to the “brother of low degree”. Due to the word brother we can be sure that these verses are talking about fellow Christians. The phrase low degree is the Greek word tapeinos (tap-i-nos’) meaning to be abased or humble (either through circumstances or disposition). Verse 9 therefore states that a brother who is humbled (again either through circumstances or disposition) can rejoice in the fact that he is exalted through Jesus. When trials come to the brother of low degree he lets God have His way and rejoices that he possesses spiritual riches that he cannot lose or have taken away.
Moving on to verse 10 we would usually expect to see a contrast given; but instead a parallel is presented. The verse starts out “but the rich, in that he is made low:” from these two verses we can see that the brother of low degree can rejoice in the fact that he is exalted but we also see that the brother who is rich can rejoice in the fact that he is made low. In the rich man’s being made low he can rejoice in his security and riches in Christ. Why can he rejoice in this? The verse continues “because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away”. The rich Christian can rejoice in his humility because all outward glory is only as the flower of the field, and, like that, will wither and perish. The rich brother, like the brother of low degree, can rejoice in the fact that they both have riches in heaven. The rich Christian can see the world’s temporary possessions and rejoices when he loses them because he knows he is secure in Christ! In other words, it is not your material resources that take you through the testings of life; it is your spiritual resources. Rich or lowly, a foundation in Christ will stand firm when everything else crumbles.
Verse 11 goes on “For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways”. Here James is emphasising that all human things are transitory; rise and fall, growth and decay, belong to all the productions of the earth, and to all its inhabitants. This is an unavoidable truth. It is worth noting that in many cases in life the very cause of growth becomes the cause of decay and destruction. The sun nourishes and supports all plants; but when it rises with a burning heat it soon withers them away. Earthly possessions suffer a similar fate. God supports and nourishes mankind, but He still gives and takes away as He wishes. He shows possessions to be uncertain, that they may never become an object of confidence to His followers, and that they may put their whole trust in God. If God decides to take away all your riches you can still rejoice in the fact that you have eternal wealth through salvation in Christ and that what you have lost is but of little value, something that through nature you were soon going to part with anyway. I think of Job as I write this, the man who lost everything but still praised Gods name.
If you are a brother (or sister!) of low degree today you can praise God and rejoice in the fact that you have eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord and that you are exalted through Him. So what if you don’t have money or nice things, if you have your salvation you don’t need anything else; instead stand strong in the knowledge that you have great riches waiting in heaven which you cannot lose. If you are a brother (or sister) who is rich today don’t be devastated when you lose things; instead remember who gave them to you in the first place. As long as you have your salvation nothing else matters. You can’t take your worldly possessions to heaven so don’t cling on to things so tight. Rejoice when the Lord gives AND takes away. You were eventually going to lose them anyway. Simply rejoice in the fact that the Lord has brought you low. – Andrew
Posted on September 6, 2012, in Andrew's Thoughts for the Day and tagged Bible, christian youth, Christianity, God, James, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Lord, Religion and Spirituality, Servant, Youth. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.