Good morning Summit Family,
Yesterday, we had an opportunity to be reminded that when we ask God for wisdom, we must believe he is going to be faithful in fulfilling that request. James is suggesting there is a direct correlation that can be drawn between the maturity/completeness of our faith and whether we believe or doubt that God will do what He says. Doubting God’s faithfulness is a sign of an unstable person.
This morning, we are going to look at the first of several examples James is going to share that will allow us to consider how we can use the wisdom God will generously give us as we face the various trials of life.
Verses 9 through 11 in chapter one talk about contrasting some of life’s personal circumstances. “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 wildflower. 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.”
The contrast James is drawing our attention to is that between poverty and wealth. This may seem to be a sudden departure from what James has been talking about. However, if we focus on the fact that God will grant us wisdom, this portion of the letter becomes clear. James is providing examples of how believers can demonstrate wisdom without respect to our personal circumstances, being poor or being rich. Both conditions provide an opportunity to exhibit pride and humility. There is another contrast inferred, one between worldly standards and Godly standards.
The poor by worldly standards are humble and most would agree there are various trials associated with being poor. I can imagine many “poor” people who are tempted to resent those who are wealthy, wishing they could share in that wealth. It is easy to conclude that those who are wealthy have fewer trials than those who are financially poor. Research would prove otherwise. There are many trials that accompany having wealth, trials those who are less fortunate financially do not have to endure.
While the poor may be humble financially (have a low position) by the world’s standards, they can rejoice because they have a high position in the kingdom of God. Scripture is filled with verses that confirmed God’s heart for the poor. “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes, with the princes of His people.” (Psalm 113:7-8) And: “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:1) So, while the poor may seem to have been forgotten by the world, they are never forgotten by God.
While the wealthy often take pride in their worldly position, James is also sharing they should take pride in their “humiliation.” One may well ask: “Where does their humiliation come from? Allow me to offer an answer: “Their humiliation comes from wisdom that tells them their true value is not found in their wealth, but in their relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Those who are wise in the Lord know that worldly wealth is based on favorable circumstances. But worldly circumstances can change as fast as the wind changes directions. Adverse conditions can suddenly change the course of direction for each of us. What is currently happening in our world economically with the Coronavirus is an example of the precarious uncertainty that accompanies worldly wealth. One has to wonder how many “wealthy” people are facing their own extreme trials as a result of the economic impact this virus is creating.
James has drawn our attention to the fact that wealth is as fleeting as the wildflower. It does not last. Just as the scorching heat of the sun withers the beauty of the flower, wealth can be destroyed just as quickly, even while those who are wealthy are busy attempting to accumulate more.
A wise person, one who has allowed their faith to mature and grow through the various trials and tribulations of life, will understand that true wealth isn’t found in their bank account or their stock portfolio. It is found in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, the God who protects and provides, the God who has placed them in the highest position humans could ever achieve – becoming and heir with Christ in the kingdom of God!
Tomorrow, James is going to continue his discourse on the blessings that come from persevering through the trials of life.
Have a blessed day!