Introduction: While James 1:2-8 appears not to connect with verses 9-11 (as there seems to be a change in the subject matter from “trials” to a contrast between pride and humility), we see that verse 12 continues with the subject of trials. There is, therefore, an actual connection— that is, whether one is poor or rich, both undergo trials!
- What does the Bible teach about pride and humility?
a) Pride is an abomination to the Lord. Pride is bound for destruction. See Prov. 8:13, 11:2, 16:5, 16:18; God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. Pride is evil. See James 4:6,16.
b) Humility is to be the “clothing” of believers in Christ. With the humble is wisdom and God’s grace. The humble will be exalted. See Phil. 2:3-4, 1 Pet 5:5, Luke 14:11.
- The contrast in James 1:9-10: The lowly brother (the believer who is poor or one who is of humble circumstances) as opposed to the rich (the believer who is materially wealthy). Although some would view James’ reference to the rich as referring to unbelieving individuals, the context would argue more consistently for understanding James’ reference to the rich as referring to believers who are materially wealthy.
- The command in James 1:9-10:
a) The poor believer is told to glory or to boast in his exaltation. In contrast to the pride which God abhors, this command to glory or to boast is being used in the good sense of the word, meaning one is to “take joy in” or to “rejoice in.” See Rom. 5:3, Phil 3:3, 1 Cor. 1:31, 2 Cor. 12:9, Gal. 6:14. How can a poor believer rejoice in his “exaltation” or “high position” when economically, he is materially poor? See Rom. 8:15-17, 1 Pet 1:3-4. The believer’s exalted position is not on the basis of his works or material wealth, but on the basis of what Christ has accomplished. Because of Christ’s finished work, we are co-heirs! We have an inheritance that is imperishable, which will not fade away.
b) The rich believer is commanded to rejoice in his humiliation. Material things will perish. Pursuit of riches, therefore, will only end in disappointment. See James 1:10b-11, Is. 40:6-8, 1 Pet 1:24-25. Material wealth will not exempt the rich believer from troubles. In fact, the more you have, the more problems there may be to encounter. Thus, both the rich and the poor believer must depend on the LORD. Material things will never give security or assurance in life (James 1:11). Neither will material things bring contentment. Only in Christ will there be genuine fulfillment. For this reason, the rich believer is to rejoice in the fact that his assurance comes from his relationship with Christ, not in his having the material riches of this world.
How is your relationship to Christ?
Ponder the Words of this song “My Worth is Not in What I Own”
My worth is not in what I own Not in the strength of flesh and bone But in the costly wounds of love At the cross My worth is not in skill or name In win or lose, in pride or shame But in the blood of Christ that flowed At the cross I rejoice in my Redeemer Greatest Treasure, Wellspring of my soul I will trust in Him, no other. My soul is satisfied in Him alone. As summer flowers we fade and die Fame, youth and beauty hurry by But life eternal calls to us At the cross I will not boast in wealth or might Or human wisdom’s fleeting light But I will boast in knowing Christ At the cross I rejoice in my Redeemer Greatest Treasure, Wellspring of my soul I will trust in Him, no other. My soul is satisfied in Him alone. Two wonders here that I confess My worth and my unworthiness My value fixed - my ransom paid At the cross
Listen to the sermon here.