The Main Thing – James 1:9-11

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.


We now come to a passage that has the potential to be quite confusing. For those who feel that the book of James is lacking in continuity it fits fine (because it seems to lack continuity). But I’m under the impression that James is following a consistent train of thought, and that this fits perfectly with the preceding verses.

James has been talking about rejoicing in the middle of trials because they provide an opportunity to grow, and now he moves on to lowly and rich people boasting about their opposite situations. Lowly brothers are supposed to boast in their high position and rich people should boast in their humiliation. We have to know that something is going on here, right? I mean to be lowly doesn’t imply exaltation and to be rich seems to be the opposite of humiliation. This already jives with what James is saying about viewing all of life from God’s perspective and not our own. God is showing us what is valuable in the economy of heaven.

Every one of us has our own unique trials, and for every one of us it takes an intentional will and focus to see through our trials to focus on what God is doing. Those who are poor need to realize that God is intentionally involved in their lives to make them more like Jesus. Lowly here may mean simply poor or if it were taken allegorically (I know, that’s risky) it may be referring to the person who is in the middle of a trial right now. This truly is an honored position because the Creator of the universe is taking them through a situation that will lead to their maturity.

The rich person on the other hand needs to remember that their faith needs to rest securely on the work of the Gospel and not on their self-sufficiency. Their wealth cannot save them. Apart from the continued grace of God they would burn up under the strain of testing. A rich man will fade away right in the middle of his pursuits if his wealth is the object of his faith.

So, in whatever situation we find ourselves in today we need to continue to look to Jesus. Whether we are poor, rich, or somewhere in between we need to find our sufficiency in the Lord. Look to Him as the object of your faith that saves and sustains throughout the trials in your lives.

Read Romans 5:2, 1 Cor 10:6-13, and Proverbs 30:7-9