Summary: Every nobody can become somebody, and that is why everybody is worthy of investment. This is God's view of man, for it was while we were yet sinners that Christ died for the ungodly. God is no haphazard and foolish investor.
An old business man once spoke at his club and told of how he
made an investment which brought him great dividends, but for
which he did not have to pay a cent of taxes. One night as he closed
his store he found a dirty boy of 12 crouched against the building
trying to protect himself from the blowing snow. He took the boy
inside and fed him, and he listened to his story. All of his family had
recently died of the flu, and he had no relatives. The store owner
gave him some clothes and $25.00. He advised him to buy a ticket to
go West, and get a rancher to take him on.
Fifteen years passed and he never heard a word. Then one day
the young man returned, not as a rider of the range, but as Dr.
Fredrick Miller, the man who had made headlines for isolating the
flu bug that had left him a orphan. The old man had invested in a
lowly person. He was an economic and social nobody, but by
investing in him he did more for humanity than if he had given away
all his wealth.
Every nobody can become somebody, and that is why everybody
is worthy of investment. This is God's view of man, for it was while
we were yet sinners that Christ died for the ungodly. God is no
haphazard and foolish investor. When He gave His Son, and His
Son gave His life, they expected that investment to pay off with
eternal dividends. They knew that all men, however, lowly, could
become sons of God. Every man is a potential child of the King.
Every man can be born again into the royal family of the Risen,
Reigning, Returning Redeemer. This is the theological foundation
for Christian dignity, and a sense of self-respect.
James is very much concerned about his subject of Christian
dignity, for if Christians do not have a proper grasp of it, they will
be poorly prepared to face life's trials. Verses 9-11 is a troublesome
paragraph to most students of the Bible, for it does not appear to
have any connection with what goes before and what comes after.
James writes in verse 2 of counting it joy when you meet various
trials, and then he goes on to refer to the need for wisdom to attain
the goal of perfection. In verse 12 he takes up the theme again of
enduring trials. Before and after these verses the theme is trials of
life. It is obvious that James in these verses we are looking at is
dealing with some specific examples of the trials Christians must
face, and they are poverty and prosperity.
James, as we have emphasized, is very practical, and he knows
that one of the greatest trials Christians will face all through history
is the trial that comes with too little or too much money, fame, and
prestige. Christians will be on both sides of the track, and both have
their dangers. Poor Christians and rich Christians both fail to find
happiness and a sense of fulfillment in God's will because they lack a
proper understanding of Christian dignity.
The Apostle Paul was a man could abound and be abased, and be
content in either state. That is, he could be a happy poor man, or a
happy rich man. Externals made no difference to him because the
basis for his happiness, well being, and self-respect, was not in
external circumstances, but in the internal Christ. For him to live
was Christ, and it was Christ in him that was the hope of glory.
This is the attitude that James is trying to communicate to all
Christians. Let's look at his counsel first of all to-
I. THE LOWLY BROTHER v. 9.
We need to establish in our minds that all Christians are not in
the same category. Christians are in many different categories, and
here they are divided between the lower class and the upper class;
the poor and the rich. The common man and the man of culture are
two clear categories. Some Christians eat out at McDonald's, and
others eat at the Black Angus. Some Christians always have a
struggle to make ends meet, and others have money available at all
times. This is one of the facts of life. It has always been true, and
always will be true.
This means that not all Christian teaching applies to the same
people. What may be of value for the poor Christian will not be of
value for the rich Christian. James has two perspectives here, and
he deals with the two categories in two different ways. Christians
must be dealt with according to their individual status, and not like
a herd of cattle. If this is true in the matter of economic and social