Summary: We all have those areas in our lives where we feel like … losers. Most people respond by trying to feel good about themselves, but there’s a better way.
James 1:9 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11 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 man will fade away even while he goes about his business.
The Pain of Being a Loser
Of all the insults people could throw your way, one of the most painful (especially if it has some validity to it) is when they call you a loser. Anyone here ever been called a loser? Even worse than someone else calling you a loser is when your own heart calls you a loser. You look around at other people who outshine you in some way and you think, Man, I’m so lame. What’s the matter with me? Other people get A’s without even trying; I study until my brain is bleeding and I still fail the test. My boss at work is half my age and he makes double my salary. Look how beautiful she is. Look how thin she is. Look at what good shape he’s in. I’m such a slob. Every time I go on a diet it ends up being the worst three hours of my life. Look at how obedient their kids are – they’ve got their life together. My house is chaos. Some of these guys around here can fix anything – wire an outlet, rebuild a generator, put up drywall – I tell my wife I’m going to try to fix the furnace and she just starts laughing like it’s the funniest joke she’s ever heard.
“Do you even know where the furnace is in this house?”
We all feel it at different points, but most of us, in some area of life, cannot escape that gnawing feeling, “I’m such a loser.” A guy pulls up next to you in his 2014 Ford Mustang, and there you are in your ’71 Pinto. How do you deal with that? How do you handle your loserness? You know you are not a loser in every area, but aren’t there one or two areas in your life where once in a while it just hits you like a shot to the gut – “I’m such a failure in this area.” That is your loserness. Or to use the biblical word - tapeinos.
Romans 12:16 …Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with the tapeinos. Do not be conceited.
The tapeinos are such losers that we need a command in Romans 12 to get us to even be willing to associate with them.
Luke 1:52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the tapeinos.
It is the opposite of a ruler - someone who is down low, in need of being lifted up. In 2 Corinthians 7:5, Paul calls himself tapeinos because he was brought low by all his fears and weaknesses and anxieties. So a tapeinos person is someone who is so weak and inadequate and lowly that people don’t even want to associate with him. Our word for all that is loser. And that is the word James uses in this passage. It is the word in verse 9 translated humble circumstances. Or your Bible might say lowly.
But whatever word you use, the question is, how do you deal with that in your life? How do you deal with your loserness/lowliness – the things that make you unattractive or cause people to look down on you, or that cause you to look down on yourself and get depressed?
The world’s solution is self-esteem. Self-esteem is the art and science of just pretending you are not a loser. But for most people it doesn’t work. It only works for people who are good at being delusional and denying reality. But for most of us, we realize - these areas where we feel like losers – in most cases, we didn’t just make that up. We feel that way for a reason. It is reality.
Other people try to deal with it by doing things like cutting themselves. They don’t know what to do, but they have to do something, and it comes out in the form of self-destruction. That is how they express their disapproval of their tapeinos.
Some deal with it by getting drunk or smoking pot or taking Xanax. I can’t stand the sting of my lowliness, and so I’ll just take something to deaden the pain of that sting.
Most people deal with their lowliness by just ignoring it, and diverting their attention to some area where they are doing well.