Summary: Those in humble circumstances and those who are rich undergo testing. This is a continuation of the opening themes of testing, endurance and victory in the first chapter of James.
Today as we continue in the first chapter of the book of James we will be looking specifically at verses 9 through 12 but before we get into those verses let's read starting at verse one to refresh our minds with what the Lord is saying through James.
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
“That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
“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 wild flower.
“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.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
“Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.”
Americans have a difficult time understanding “humble circumstances”
“humble circumstances” are relative
You are considered to be in humble circumstances if:
If you have an old flip phone
If you are a motorcyclist and don’t have a Harley (or knockoff)
If your house doesn’t have a bedroom for each child
What were “humble circumstances” when the Holy Spirit moved James to write a letter to the Christians of that time?
Two classes of people
The poor (humble circumstances)
From the best of the humble to the most humble
Those who went to the marketplace to be hired for day work
Servants and slaves
Widows and orphans
The crippled and disabled
The outcast - lepers
Remember: this is to “Believers in humble circumstances” but what does it mean that they should “take pride in their high position?”
This seems like how can they be in “humble circumstances” and “high position” at the same time?
There is a thread running through this passage
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds … Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position … Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial …”
What is the “high position” for those who are in "humble circumstances" since the time of Christ?
It is the position held by those who are “in Christ”
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus …”
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body …”
“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus.” (Not co-workers FOR Christ Jesus but IN Christ Jesus)
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith …”
So, these down trodden, unskilled laborers and the destitute and the unclean who the world looks down upon, these “losers” from the world’s point of view are all in a high position because they are in Christ!
They should consider their worldly hardships “pure joy” because in Christ they are a child of God. They have passed from being the least of the least in the world to being joint heirs in the Kingdom of God because they are in Christ!
No one here today qualifies as poor in the time of Christ or even now in an undeveloped country.
Do you feel like you are poor? The United Nations has established that the world poverty level are those with an income of less than $1.25 per day! Still feel poor?
Now, let’s move onto James 1:10
“But the rich should take pride in their humiliation - since they will pass away like a wild flower.”
Most of the commentaries believed that these people referred to as “the rich” were also believers with only a couple of exceptions.
How should the rich take pride in their humiliation?
The world exalts riches; riches in money, riches in looks, riches in physical abilities, etc.