James 1:9-11 | Glory in Christ
James 1.9-11 | Glory in Christ
Adversity is a common experience of life. It is something that each of us is going to face. When adversity interrupts our lives with unforeseen circumstances, we often feel as if we are not quite sure what to do. These moments are overwhelming to us, for they reveal the insufficiency of our resources or ability to overcome these problems on our own. They confront us with a complete reversal of our circumstances, often leading us to discouragement or despair. How then is the believer to face struggle, hardship, persecution when it seems to overtake them without any notice? They are to face it with joy, realizing their need for wisdom and understanding their problems from a completely different perspective.
Textual Emphasis: On the surface, this may seem like a trite answer to the problem of suffering. But it is not meant to be that it all. It's profoundly practical, for James was not addressing suffering with a philosophical musing or with the encouragement of mind of matter. Instead, he provided a realistic hope that bolsters and encourages his readers not to be defeated by their enduring persecution. So he challenges suffering believers to recognize the faithfulness of God that was fulfilling His promise for good eve. in the most challenging moments of their life. Because God is faithful
Count it all joy - knowing He was working in their life.
If they lack wisdom - let them ask of God who gives generously to those who trust Him.
Central idea: James challenged believers from different walks of life to consider the reversal of fortune that Christ has brought in their life.
Proposition: Regardless of their status in life, believers are meant to glory in Christ, for He changes their circumstances completely.
Transition: Our passage reflects two truths that provide us with much-needed clarity when facing our struggles.
Complete Reversal of our Circumstances:
Common Thread: James recognizes that his readers come from different walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds. The struggles they have faced, and their toll on their lives might have been vastly different.
Two Classes of people, but a shared struggle - both will face hardship and persecution.
Two classes of people, but they look to the same place for hope and perspective.
Two classes of people but the same promises to sustain them and the same presence who will be faithful to them in their time of need
Differing Perspective: Like two sides of the same coin, James provides each side with a unique perspective that can lead them to boast or glory in the Lord.
Lowly are those who had been dealt a hard blow in life. They faced seemingly insurmountable setbacks that brought a complete reversal to many areas of their life. More than simply being financially needy, their poverty derived from their faith in Jesus. To follow Jesus had cost them nearly everything. James reminds them though they had suffered significant losses in this life, they had riches beyond measure that no one could take from them. They can boast in Christ, for though they may appear by every worldly measure to be destitute, they indeed were Sons and daughters of the King.
On the Other hand, the rich are those who faced unlikely blessings and prosperity in their life. Their life had advanced to an almost unbelievable degree. They might have status and privilege in this world, but God brought them low to identify with the meek and lowly Jesus. Their wealth or possession meant nothing to God. They were to glory in the reality that Christ was their most excellent possession. They were to be willing to suffer the loss of all former glories, for they had found One who surpassed it all.
Pointed Challenge: This passage intends not to commend poverty or lowliness or to demean affluence or privilege. The point is that God had turned everything upside down through Christ. To be forsaken and lowly in this world is not a cause for despair. Wealth and possessions are not a place of trust or hope. God takes the reasoning and values of natural thinking and counters it - the lowly are exalted, and the rich are humbled. He regards those of low status and position, and he removes every reason to boast by those who seemingly have everything.
Continual Reminder Where We put our trust:
Mistaken Confidence: James now focuses on the illusion wealth and possession often bring. Too often, people put their hope in money and possessions. "[Hardship reveals] the instability of wealth and their inability to give inner peace and satisfaction when [sufferings] come. [It's a powerful reminder that we] tend to trust in our possessions and money, and James shows the folly of doing so. For it can all be taken away from you at any moment. [Rod Mattoon, Treasures from James, 53.]
Fleeting Nature of Wealth: James likens wealth to a flower within a grassy field that can fade away to nothing when facing destructive elements of life. The transient nature of a flower that cannot withstand the scorching middle-eastern heat reminds his readers of the fleeting nature of money and possessions.
The sun rises and brings scorching heat.
Grass withers from the sweltering condition
Flowers droop and fall
Beautiful appearance is gone.
Sobering Reminder: This practical metaphor contains a sobering reminder that the riches that so many people pursue and place their hopes in will not last. Every life will fade away, and all that they had in this life will be gone. Money, possessions, influence, and power cannot stop the hands of time or help one escape their coming final breath. A lifetime spent accumulating wealth means nothing from the perspective of eternity. Regardless of your status in this life, every person will meet the same end. [Rod Matton]
Summary: James' two-fold purpose is to encourage the lowly and warn the rich by reminding both their hope is not in their circumstances or status but Christ. All believers will face hardship in this life regardless of whether they are poor or rich. "The question we face is how will the lowly handle their lack or how will the affluent handle their abundance?" [William Varner] Where will you put your trust when you have nothing or when your blessings are far more than you deserve? James reminds us that whatever state we are in - if we belong to Christ, we have a reason to glory and boast. Both material poverty or riches mean very much when compared to the spiritual riches that belong to us in Christ. Regardless of our circumstances let us glory in Christ who has turned everything in our lives upside down.