Character transformation is experiencing divine power through relationships; striving together towards a maturity in Christ….not in myself, my poverty or my riches. Trials have and will hit everyone, whether you’re rich or poor, healthy or sickly. Again as I’ve already said “no one is exempt from trials and tribulations.”
For the purpose……
It helps us to grow in His likeness
It helps us to trust in God’s wisdom
It helps us to rely upon His resources
Nothing is too hard to overcome whether it’s something small or big when our faith is strengthening through trials. But one of the hardest trials any human being can face is the trial of self-centeredness, or pride. It is our general inclination to see everything with ourselves as the center, filtering all of life through a “me lens.” James starts off talking about poverty and riches. Why? Many of James listeners were likely poor, but some were rich and trusting in their wealth. See as James continues……he is reminding the poor, you should boast in God; and in the absence of physical resources, you are driven by His grace….. to boast in your rich status through Jesus Christ as a child of God. On the other hand, if your rich be very careful. Trails will remind you that money can’t solve your problems and all the stuff you fill your life with can’t cover up you’re going to have nothing left. The question we need to ask ourselves this morning is! Will your life be built on those physical resources or on the spiritual resources only God can provide? Let me ask you this morning! Are you willing to be content and satisfied if you were at a fork in the road that required you to go without? That required you to choose between what is right and wrong?What is my purpose and what is my heart focused on? Is it for the glory of God to shine into my heart or is it for personal gain and pleasures of this life?
Think about this and compare it to your life now…..possible this morning! Do life pleasures and life luxuries bring us true joy and happiness? Does wealth make you feel closer to God or more independent? According to the Scriptures we can only be truly satisfied in Christ and Christ alone. Why Phil 4:19 says “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” As we continue to understand and unfold the fact that trials are a part of the Christian life we see James shifting gears to another issue that plagues even the most veteran Christian! Wealth and pride.
See the first thing we need to understand is that wealth isn’t the problem. It’s the attitude towards one’s wealth. Another wrong attitude is the person who says “I’ll just stay poor and then I’ll be ok!” But again that’s a wrong thinking because a poor person is just as guilty for wanting but unable to have….just as a rich person who hoards it all for themselves. Sin is sin and both are equally guilty if handled in a wrong manner. Meaning! Christ is sufficient in all aspects of my life! This world only offers temporal fulfillment which leads to broken hearts and frustration as so many of us has gone through at one point in time in life.
Ask yourself? Do I measure a person’s worth by who they are or what they have? Do I measure my own success by that standard?............ Because the world does! If that’s so in your life……... then I’m here to tell you that you’re missing the mark in finding your true worth and true joy! James said they wither and die and amount to nothing in comparison to grace and beauty that is found in the Gospel. James address this 2 types of individuals the poor and the rich man!
Let’s look at the rich man first! [Because it’s more of a negative rebuke] "...Because, as the flower of the grass he shall pass away" (v10). “Pass away” (means) shortly, and suddenly; either he himself by death, or his riches at death, or before, and therefore are not to be gloried in. The rich man needs to be reminded that earthly possessions are not the mark of true wealth. Why? (v11a) “…..its beauty perishes”
“beauty perishes” means the appearance of beauty won’t last forever…….they will eventually be destroyed, or die. I can buy flowers for my wife and they only last for a very short time. I can buy a new vehicle eventually it will need repairs. I can buy the latest and greatest gadget and in 6 months it’s like a purchased a 8 track player. These things can appear to be beautiful and very distracting at the time but they will wither and fade away. And what’s worse is in the end (v11b) “the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits” If our pursuits are not Christ centered and Christ motivated, then who is it centered around? “ME!” This means! The life of the “rich man” comes to an end while he is busily engaged in making money. His riches are unable to prolong his life, for he departs and leaves his possessions behind. Striving to pursue the American dream instead of living a Gospel saturated life that brings true joy. See the rich man should glory in knowing that wealth is temporary and unimportant and that one’s hope is in the LORD. Paul reminded Timothy of this important truth…………..“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty [proud, arrogant], nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” 1 Tim 6:17
NOW! WHAT DOES JAMES SAY TO THE POOR MAN TO DO? “Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation” (v9)
“Let the Lowly or humble” focuses not on economic poverty but on lowliness…either humble status in society or humble attitude. This means! The poor man can glory in the salvation that he or she attains from a Holy and Perfect God who gives freely to sinners like us. As it says in 1Peter 1:4 “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,” This is should be enough for anyone to rejoice in! We are to glory in our exaltation or high position. Even the most poor and destitute Christian, can glory as a child of God in the countless blessings that position brings. Especially in a time! When the world determines a man’s worth by how they live and what they possess as worth.
THE POOR MAY BE HUNGRY, BUT HE HAS THE BREAD OF LIFE!
John 6:35 "...Jesus said to them, "I Am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst"
THE POOR MAY BE THIRSTY, BUT HE HAS THE WATER OF LIFE THAT OVERFLOWS HIS CUP!
John 4:1-14 “Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
THE POOR MAY GO WITHOUT, BUT HE HAS ETERNAL RICHES!
Luke 6:20 “And He lifted up His eyes on His disciples, and said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”
THE POOR MAY HAVE NO HOME ON EARTH, BUT HE HAS A GLORIOUS HOME IN HEAVEN!
Rev 7:16-17 “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
We need to understand when God takes something away from you. It has the purpose of making you more spiritually mature, Which is something that is more valuable than anything you have lost here on this earth we must invest our riches in the things above? Why? James gives the perfect answer in (v12) “he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” This is where our riches lay….the promise of our saving Lord who gives eternal life to those who have been called out of darkness into His glorious light whether you’re rich or poor. As R C Sproul said “Whatever economic state in which we find ourselves, the perspective of faith tells us that we must boast only in Jesus and the status that His kingdom grants us. Among His people, neither wealth nor poverty makes us better in His eyes. Rather, we must treasure Him alone and the new life He offers to us in our adoption as His children.” There is nothing wrong with wealth or things but remember if it taken away rejoices in it, because they are only temporal treasures. Remember! Your salvation, your relationship, and your communion with God is more precious and far greater than anything that riches can buy. It’s not about what you have, it’s all about Christ Jesus our Lord.
Genuine happiness and your true worth depend on the true riches of God's grace, not earthly wealth or the lack of it.
John MacArthur said “When you lose a daughter, son, wife, husband, or other loved one, wealth is no comfort. When you lose your health, are betrayed by a friend, or are wrongfully maligned, money cannot buy peace of mind or decrease the pain. Trials are the great equalizer, bringing all of God’s children to dependence on Him. Wealth does not bring God closer, nor does poverty keep Him further away.” As Peter said “And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” 1 Peter 5:4. Again! It’s not what you or have or don’t have that determines your worth or position in Christ. It’s Christ! And Christ alone. Maybe some of us today need to pray “Father, forgive me of the times when I’ve placed anything of this world above You and my love for You.” We forget that God is the Giver of all things and the Author of salvation. Whether I am rich or poor I will exult in everlasting worth found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love You and I will give you all praise and honor.