Boast in the Lord!
Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
(Jas 1:9-11 ESV)
Of all the categories which we lump people into, the category of wealth is the most common: the haves and that have-nots, the rich and the poor, the down trodden and the ‘man’. Yet James’ counsel to both (I hasten to add…inspired counsel) is not to focus on what they have, whether a little or a lot. He directs their sight and thoughts towards a more excellent perspective.
The lowly brother is to look around at his condition and boast. Because even as poor as he is, Christ redeemed him and exalted him and has promised him a mansion. The poor brother, in relationship to this world’s benefits, has little but, in relationship to God, has a great deal. James will say later on (5:13) that if one is cheerful that he should sing. This poor brother should be cheerful and what better song than “I’ve been redeemed” or “His eye is on the sparrow” or “This world is not my home” or….well, you get the picture. Boast poor brother Boast!
It is particularly important that poor man boasts in his relationship with God so that he does not fall into the trap of being envious. Jesus says
“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Which brings us to the rich brother:
James says to the rich that he is to boast in his humiliation. One might ask, “what humiliation?” Not only is he rich but he is going to Heaven! For the rich, the humiliation is that they cannot do it all; their wealth is as nothing to God because it will not buy them an ounce of grace. The rich are made to be on the same level as the poor, no special treatment is commanded for them, and in the Lord’s church it is not supposed to be allowed (James 2). Riches are easy to trust in when you have them. You can buy the things you need, even get yourself out of trouble by hiring competent attorneys, avoid the drudgery of mowing your own lawn, changing your own oil, get to watch your favorite NFL teams on satellite, dress nice and have people call you Sir or Ma’am. The list goes on and does not only apply to the über rich. However, none of the purchasable items includes Salvation.
In the world, special treatments are normal but in the church of God, they are anathema. In that day, a Christian man may have owned a slave and yet his slave might be an elder in the church. The rich man would need to be subject to his slave in matters of the church even though the slave was subject to him in relation to work to be done. (No, such does not happen today very often: think employee/employer but it easily could.) To be made equal is a humiliation enough but to submit to your own slave? There is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, rich nor poor, black nor white all are one in Christ. Christ humiliated himself by becoming equal with His creation. The Rich also should boast in this humiliation. Boast rich man, Boast!
James also reminds the rich that they will disappear. Not in pomp and circumstance but just like grass on a hot, blistering, Texas summer day. The grass withers and its flower fades. Notice James says the rich man will also fade “in the midst of his pursuits”. Working away and Bam! in the blink of an eye he is standing before the throne of judgement.
As quoted above, ones life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. When we do finally get to Heaven, the wealth and magnificence of God’s throne room alone will put to shame everything we have here.
All Christians, rich, poor, or middle class should Boast, but in the Lord. Boast Christian, Boast!
Posted on November 22, 2011, in Christianity, Comments on James, Faith, Humilty, James, poor, Rich and tagged christianity, commentary on James, faith, humility, James, poor. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.