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James 1:9-11 ESV

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 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.

I didn’t come up with the phrase, because it seems like it has literally been around forever. The phrase I’m talking about is, “Perspective is everything.”

Some attribute the saying to Joni Eareckson Tada. Certainly, her story is a great example of this idea, but I also ran across something much further from the past. Marcus Aurelius apparently said, “Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”

The phrase, “Perception trumps reality” is another way to convey this thought. There is a lot of truth in these sayings as reality is somewhat clouded by our own individual perceptions, and our perceptions have been greatly influenced by… well, just about everything that has ever happened to us.

To bring this back into focus regarding the context of James’ passage, we tend to be unhappy in our own circumstances. We are often longing for that which we do not have. We, as people, have this tendency of comparing our lives to others. I guess it’s no wonder why one of the Ten Commandments is, “You shall not covet.” Social media certainly keeps this fire burning. Well, I guess that is another blog or sermon.

James says, “Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation.”

The first time you read that you might say, “Wait… what?” Remember James is writing a general epistle to Jewish Christians, who have been dispersed from Jerusalem. Among other reasons, they have been dispersed due to persecution. Some of that persecution took the form of shutting those early Christians out of daily commerce.

James reminds those Christians, and us today, to boast in the exalted status found in Christ, even if living in humble situations. Obviously, we raise an eyebrow when it comes to words like boast, but in the Greek, this word also carries with it the idea of rejoicing. Even if we are poor on this earth, we have been adopted into the family of the King of Kings. We are joint heirs with Christ. Who is richer than our Heavenly Father? The short answer is, no one.

James is not the only Biblical author to remind us, but he does remind us that the temporary things of this world will quickly fad. Even beyond our financial status, no matter how tough life on this earth gets, we have something beyond our wildest dreams awaiting for us. We might live in modest circumstances now, but we have reached royal status in God’s family.

James also mentions the wealthy in verse ten. James doesn’t call wealth bad in this passage, but he does remind the rich to be humble. Rich and poor alike are both important to God, and both need to rely on God equally. The rich need to keep a humble heart. After all, James says all that wealth will quickly fad. It is who we are in Christ that matters, and that is something to rejoice about.

Where we spend all of eternity is far more important than how comfortable our temporary circumstances are in this life. See how our perspective comes into play? Don’t fall into the trap of constantly desiring things that will quickly fad away, but focus on what we have in Christ.

Maybe Paul said it best, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” ESV Php 1:21.

So don’t fall for that old temptation from Satan. He loves to keep people unsatisfied, and dreaming about the things of this world that will soon cease to exist. Seek Christ, and yes, boast in your new exalted position.



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