Day 4 of Jump Start picks up with James 1:9-11.
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9 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. – James 1:9-11
Jesus > Money or Status (v.9-10)
James uses two different words to describe the poor. In verse 9 he uses “tapeinos” translated as lowly. It does not refer primarily refer to economic status. Instead, it best describes social status. The “lowly brother” is not just a poor person; he’s an outcast, socially awkward.
The lowly brother should boast in his exaltation because he’s a brother. The New Testament frequently uses familial language to describe the Church, the family of God. Notice the rich man in verse 10 is simply “rich” and not a “rich brother.” Even though the lowly brother in verse 9 is a social outcast, he has infinitely more reason to rejoice than the rich man in verse 10.
The lowly brother knows he can boast in Jesus and an eternal life that will not pass away, like the rich man’s will (v.10). James reminds the rich man that no matter how much he may acquire, it’s all fleeting and temporary.
It’s Not Always a Slow Fade (v.11)
In 2009, Casting Crowns released a song called, “Slow Fade.” Read the chorus below.
“It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade.” – Casting Crowns
There’s definitely some truth to the song. Most people drift from God slowly, over a long period of time. Few people have a Jonah-like moment of dramatic rebellion and running away from God.
But that’s not the picture James paints.
I grew up in Central Texas where summer temperatures regularly stay above 100 degrees with heat indexes creeping up over 110. Grass definitely withers. Flowers fall and their beauty perishes…fast.
James paints a bleak reality for those who put their identity and self-worth in the material aspects (wealth and status) of this world. They, their net worth, and their chance to live a life of real, active faith can fade fast.
Questions for Application and Prayer
1. Think about all the various aspects of your life. In what area do you take the most pride? Work success? Family status? Spend some time asking God to help you develop a “lowly” spirit that drives you to boast in Jesus above all else.
2. Who do you think of when you read about the rich man in verse 10? Only one of the 7.1 billion people on the planet does not have someone else’s wealth/status to be jealous of. When we read the New Testament’s warnings to the rich, we need to first and foremost read them as directed to us, because we are the global rich. One of the greatest temptations when reading the Bible is thinking about how so many other people need to be reading what we are only to find the text is piercing our own hearts and we don’t even realize it. How does verse 10 shake up your world?
3 In verse 11, James talks about how people can fade away from faith quickly. Spend a few moments in prayer, asking God to bring to mind some people in your life that might be nearing that fast fade. Send them a message now. Ask them about what’s new in their world or what their kids have been up to lately. Ask them how you can be praying for them and then actually pray for them. Create an opportunity to invite them to church or a small group with you. The fade isn’t always slow – you might not have time to wait.