Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Thought

“Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field”  (James 1:9-10).

So much for the so-called “prosperity gospel”, right?  That The Lord is just aching to give us material blessings in such abundance that we will not be able to keep up with it all?  Not so fast, according to James.  We should understand this passage in its appropriate context, however, before we are so quick to judge the “rich” for having more than we think they are entitled to.

There are many persons who are financially very well off and who are also not afraid to share their abundance; and they are not afraid because they have a deep and abiding faith in The Lord to see to their futures.  They recognize that The Lord has seen to their abundance so they have plenty to share, not so they can have more for themselves (“for the Lord does not show partiality”).  Even though there seem to be many passages that condemn the “rich” for simply being rich, everything must be taken in its appropriate context.

James is speaking in terms not of money but of faith; real faith, enduring faith, the kind of faith that transcends an empty and often uncertain belief that has yet to be proved.  We do not see this passage as promising material wealth to the “lowly”; we must therefore not read this same passage as a curse on those who have found success.  Rather we should understand this passage as the same Promise fulfilled in all; that the “lowly” will be raised up from the trappings of whatever has brought them low (it may not be strictly about being “poor”), and the “rich” will be released from the trappings that often come with wealth.  We must believe (because it is true) that money does not buy happiness.  It might be rented for awhile, but it doesn’t last.  And The Lord wants to redeem them as well.

I will grant that the entire passage seems to be condemnatory toward the “rich”, but we must understand we all have our own crosses to bear in whatever form is presented to us.  The Lord assures us that if we take up that cross faithfully and follow Him, He will show us the way out from under the world’s many traps.  The Promise is predicated, however, on our choice to deliberately engage in Messiah’s life and path; not to simply believe He is or that He walked the earth or that He was raised from the grave.  We must have the faith to know it! “For the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the winds; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-8).   

Don’t be so hard on the “rich” for being under condemnation, and don’t be so hard on the “poor” who seem to have let life’s opportunities pass by them.  We all have a cross to bear, according to our Lord, and each one is as heavy as the next.  So if we are to boast at all, let us boast in knowing we are being led out!



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