Sunday, April 02, 2006

James 1:9-12 Responding to Trials (part 7)

James 1:9-12 But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; [10] and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. [11] For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away. [12] Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Today's text is about the practical application of godly wisdom. James wants his audience to understand and respond to their situation from God's perspective. To lack wisdom, is to lack God's perspective.

Remember that James wrote to Christian Jews who were refugees of persecution. They were suffering financially and being taken advantage of by rich oppressors. (See James 2:5-7 for some evidence of this fact.) In the first century, there was no justice for someone who was poor or of low status because court cases were decided by status rather than facts. Therefore, the rich always won since they were of higher status. They used their status to take away what little the poor had and to cheat them of their rightful wages. (See James 5:1-6)

James instructs these poor refugees to evaluate their situation from God’s perspective. In this world they maybe despised and rejected but God has chose them before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him in love (Eph1:4). In this world they maybe of low status but in God’s kingdom they are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a people for God’s own possession (1 Peter 1:9). In this world they maybe persecuted, but at Christ’s coming they will be vindicated. (see 2 Thess. 1:3-10) In this world they maybe impoverished, but in God’s economy they are wealthy beyond measure. In fact,1 Peter 1:3-6 says, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, [4] to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, [5] who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. [6] In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials. In this world you maybe suffering, but in the next you will receive glory. Romans 8:16-18 says, The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, [17] and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. [18] For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Are you in the midst of a trial? Are you wisely viewing it from God’s perspective? Often, this is our greatest struggle. This was the struggle for the original recipients of James’ letter. They came from a background that saw poverty and trouble as sign of God’s displeasure. If someone were prosperous they viewed that as evidence of God’s blessing and favor. James turned their worldview upside down!

Listen folks! The fact you have trials shows that God loves you and deals with you as His beloved children. He is seeking to build endurance into your lives. He wants to multiply you faith, strengthen your character, and mature you. These are the reasons for your trials! As Peter says, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time!

What’s the main point of today’s devotion? Wise Christians will evaluate themselves and their situation by God’s standard and not the world's. V9

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