Summary: Trials affect all of us, rich and poor. By persevering through a trial we become all God wants us to be and receive His blessing
BLESSINGS FOR THE RICH AND HUMBLE
Trials and difficulties. They affect us all. No one is immune for them. It doesn’t matter how rich you are or how poor you are, they will remove all barriers and boundaries between us. You’ve been through them. I’ve been through them. Every week when I come to prayer meetings, and I’m not just talking about at SEFC, I always hear requests for physical healing, salvation of a loved one, or someone is having a problem in their life. Let me say if you are going through a difficult time, we want to know about it. I can’t promise I can make it go away, but I can promise you I will listen and pray with you, and be there for you. I don’t know about you, but when I’m going through a difficult time, I always appreciate it when someone comes alongside of me and lets me know he or she is there. I don’t need a lot of high powered advice or for them to fire Bible verses at me; I just want to know they care.
I always like the example of Job’s friends. Just listen to this.
Job 2:11 ¶ When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.
Job 2:12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.
Job 2:13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
I remember when KC was going to die, and it was very hard on me. It was my day to teach an English lesson to the CS class. We normally meet at 8:30AM to pray and I was in tears about KC. Mr Yamamuro prayed, and I did not understand everything he was praying but I heard him mention me and KC several times. And I appreciated that. Afterward he put his arm around me and let me cry. You don’t know how much I appreciated that. That’s what Job’s friends did. That’s what we need when we are in distress. That’s the kind of friend I want to be to someone.
I won’t go any further on this, because if you read the rest of Job, you will see that his friend’s advice was well meaning but wrong.
There are some things we need to remember when we are going through trials. First let’s review. Does anyone remember the 4 steps we looked at last time? Be joyful, because the trial is what God is using to produce patience and perseverence in you. Be persistent because it is a chance for you to grow in your faith. Because you see, the result of this is that we will be complete. God wants us to be mature Christians, not baby Christians. And often the only way to grow is through these difficulties. The last point is to be be wise. We can ask God for wisdom, but we need to believe Him when He gives us wisdom without doubting.
Someone wrote that it is probably good to begin this message with verse 12, because it says the one who perserveres under trial is blessed. We’ll look at this later.
Let’s contrast the rich and the humble. Verse 9 tells us about the humble.
James 1:9 ¶ The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.
This is interesting, because James says the person in humble circumstances needs to take pride because he is in a high position. We need to understand who he is referring to because we will contrast this with the rich in the next verse. Most likely James is talking about someone who may not be materially rich and he may have been brought low through a trial.
See the person who is perservering through a trial is in a high position because he is also in a position where he can appreciate his eternal glory in Christ. Let’s go back to Job. He was a man who had it all…and lost it all. I remember going through a very difficult time 20 years ago, when I was brought lower than I have ever been. I was a dental student. That was what I really wanted more than anything else, to be a dentist. It didn’t happen immediately…I applied twice to get into dental school and was turned down both times. And by then I was perfectly happy to pursue whatever God wanted for me, even if it wasn’t dental school. Did I ever tell you that as a young Christian I was afraid to completely give my life to Jesus, because I was afraid that instead of going to dental school, he would make me go to Dallas Theological Seminary instead. You know this isn’t the main point of my message, but I heard a message on this yesterday, so let’s look at it anyway.