Poor Rich and Rich Poor

Text: James 1:9-12
Speaker: Jim Newheiser
Outline: PDF
Date: March 13, 2011

The world values people according to wealth and status.
James turns the world’s values upside down as he says that the poor/lowly brother should boast in his elevation, while the wealthy should boast in his humiliation. When James speaks in this way he sounds like Jesus who taught in the Beatitudes that those who are poor in spirit are blessed and the meek will inherit the earth. Jesus also affirms that God’s values are the opposite the world’s through his parables of the rich fool and the rich man and Lazarus; and the story of the rich young ruler who would not turn loose of his wealth that he might gain Christ.

The world says that the lowly are disadvantaged. Jesus and James teach that the rich is spiritually disadvantaged because it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

All of this fits into this section of James which focuses on trials. We all know that poverty is a trial. We need wisdom that we might joyfully endure the trial of being poor. The rich also need wisdom to humble themselves by setting aside their earthly wealth and status that they might be united with Christ and His people. Such wisdom comes when we recognize that our riches are temporary and fleeting. One Santa Ana wind, or an earthquake, or a tsunami, and all our worldly wealth (and even our frail lives) will be wiped out. Only that which is connected with God will last.

Posted on March 13th, 2011 | Permalink