James 1:9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:
10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.
11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.
12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
In verses 9-10 James addressed material status. Those who are physically poor are often frowned upon. Some will prejudge them and assume they are poor because they are not very ambitious or they do not know how to manage money. The reality is that within the ranks of Christianity there will be people who are poor. Peter and John were not wealthy men. They did not have any money to give to the beggar at the Beautiful gate.
However, they were exalted in that they were saved and thus they were children of the most high God. They had an eternal inheritance that was of greater value than all the silver and gold. They offered this lame man these riches. When this man received strength to walk, he rose up leaping and praising God. He discovered true riches in an instant. It is a great blessing to receive the forgiveness of sins and to have one’s name written in the Lamb’s book of Life.
In verse 10 James addressed those who have earthly riches. There have always been Christians who have been blessed with wealth. The rich person will not be spared persecution just because he has money. He will be humbled through persecution. His money cannot pay an escape from the sufferings associated with walking faithfully with the Lord.
Thus we are reminded again that whether rich or poor, true saints always have much to rejoice in. James stated further that riches do not last. The economy can change quickly or there can be a crop failure or some other situation that can change the status of the materially rich saint.
James compares this to the grass. The flower of the grass does not last long. It is there for a short time, but then it is gone. The rich person can die very suddenly. His life can be over before he knows it.
In verse 11 we see further comparison. The sun rises and the heat of the sun burns the grass. It withers for lack of moisture. The flower of the grass falls off and is no more. It has done its work and it dries up. The grass is changed due to the heat of the sun. So too, the rich man fades away and is gone.
James was directed by God here to remind the saints not to put too much emphasis on earthly status. The key to success is not money or things. The key to success is knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and serving Him as Lord. Don’t be careless with the resources God gives you, but as we see in the book of Acts, Christians could be free and prospering one day and in prison and having nothing the next. The material things were very fragile and could not be counted on. However, those who were saved could trust in God’s promises. They had eternal life and that could never be taken from them. That would never lose its value. Even though riches can be lost, God’s salvation is sure. Even though we grow old and die, salvation provides eternal life.
In verse 12 we are again reminded of the importance of enduring temptation. Temptation is a reality for the true child of God. The devil is not content to leave the faithful saint alone. He wants to try to defeat that person. God says the person who endures temptation is blessed. It is easy to be in the flesh and to fight back. It is easy to snap back at the one who is oppressing.
We have seen much oppression over the past two+ years. We have seen people getting in their trucks and travelling to Ottawa to try to get the attention of a corrupt government. We have seen them talking about staying there until they got the ear of the government. They did not expect the heavy handed brutality of the government. As we have mentioned before, that was no place for born again Christians. That event did not help to advance the Gospel of Christ at all. It was a worldly event that did not accomplish what those involved hoped it would. It is true that most of the mandates are gone for now. The key is they are gone for now. Some provinces are threatening to bring them back again. Far too many people have been brainwashed into believing that the mandates saved lives. They are demanding officials to bring them back.
James was not a poliical activist. God is not a political activist either. The goal of the true child of God is to make the Gospel known to all people and to see people saved and growing in the Lord. That is where our efforts need to be put. Bullies seldom give up by human actions. However, as the apostle Paul discovered, he could not win against the Lord. As Saul the persecutor, he was broken by the Lord. No one ganged up on him. Jesus Christ stopped him in his tracks and showed him that he was wrong. Saul repented toward God and he was saved. He was a different man from that moment on.
James had been an unbeliever as well. It was the Gospel that penetrated his hard heart and he became a saint. He became a saint by repenting toward God and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. There is only one way to break a stubborn, unrepentant sinner. It is God the Holy Spirit Who works in the heart of the lost sinner as he is exposed to the Word of God.
James stated that when the saint is tried, he shall receive the crown of life. This crown is for those who are saved and serve God faithfully. James further stated that this crown is promised by the Lord to them that love Him. The only ones that can love the Lord are those who are saved. Apart from God’s salvation, there is no hope for man.
Trials are the way to refine the true child of God. Those who claim to be saved are tested to help them to prove who they truly are. When things go well, there will be those who want to tag along and try to benefit from those who are truly saved. When testing comes, the “tag alongs” will abandon ship. Those who are tested and grow through it will find reason to rejoice as they understand the love and grace of God in a greater way.