James 1:9-10: An upside-down world

Posted: February 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower.11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. – James 1:9-10 (NIV)

It’s all about where we see ourselves in the big picture.

Have you ever looked down on someone because you saw them as beneath you?  Maybe we don’t enter the day with that intention in mind.  Yet, we see another person and make snap judgments based upon the way they look, the way they are dressed, their overall cleanliness.  Sometimes, maybe without any real thought, we turn away from them and head in the other direction.  Or, we hurry past time in the store.  Or maybe we really don’t give them much of a thought at all.

But there are other people that when we look at them, we see them as having it all together.  We make those judgments based upon their clothes, their car, their wealth, their job, their status.  Maybe instead of heading in the other direction, we try to find ways to move closer to them. 

That’s the world that James seeks to address.  It’s a world where there is a bias against the “least of these” and a bias toward the “blessed of the blessed.”  One of the places it is playing out in James’ time is in the community of faith.

So, James seeks to turn that world upside down.  Those in humble circumstances, the least of these, the poor are to take pride in their “high position.”  And the rich, the wealthy, the blessed of the blessed are to take pride in “humiliation.”  Is this a statement about wealth or something else?

James is pointing out the fact that in a spiritual sense, we all come to the same place before God.  For those who have nothing, God reaches out to lift up and love the “least of these.”  For those who fall into a temptation of wealth as a god (with the little g), God shows what it means to lose all of our shame, guilt, etc., to be built up again in love.

James challenges us to see the world in a new way.  So, how will we see it today?  Will we still see it with our biases and preferences?

All-loving God, open our eyes to the world around us.  Expose to us our biases and show us the ones that we might otherwise ignore.  God help us to know that in you, we are all equals in need of your love, grace and mercy.  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.


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