Chapter 1:5-11 (ESV) - If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 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.
Question to consider: What does James mean by “lowly brother” in this passage?
Yesterday I wrote about two kinds of trials that people face: those we experience because of our sin and those we experience because of our faith in Christ. James expressed to the scattered churches that we should rejoice in those trials we experience because of Christ. There is a third type of trial which I did not mention yesterday which is caused by living in a sinful and dying world. With it comes disease, injustice, tyranny, and a wide variety of other trials which are not caused by anything directly related to our beliefs or actions. We can find joy in these as well as the Holy Spirit uses them to refine our faith and draw us closer to Christ, for in them we seek the Lord’s wisdom.
I know that by expressing “we” I am making an application of the text right up front, but these truths that James conveyed to the young churches scattered throughout Asia Minor apply to all ambassadors of Christ’s kingdom here on earth. What sort of wisdom do we seek? This would be the ability to discern a proper, Christ-honoring course of action in the midst of our challenges. In seeking wisdom, God rarely answers the “why” question. It’s not really our prerogative to know why God is allowing a particular circumstance but to have faith in God’s goodness and God’s desire to ultimately bring about His good will in our lives.
Someone who is double-minded is someone who serves two masters. In describing someone being pulled apart by the waves of the sea, James is making a similar point to that of Jesus in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Instead of being anxious about our earthly circumstances, Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
James even went so far as to say that if your trial has brought you into humble circumstances (lacking in material wealth), the Lord is exalting you far above those who have been granted earthly fortunes. This would have been (and still is) counter-intuitive to the cultural idea that material wealth is a result of God’s blessing. The rich man spends most of his time trying to maintain his wealth instead of seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness. This is a sad truth because earthly wealth is temporary, but Christ’s kingdom is eternal.
Dear heavenly father, please give us wisdom to know what has eternal significance and a desire to pursue those things. We thank You for taking care of our physical needs and showing us mercy when we fall short of Your righteous demands. Help us to leave our daily bread in Your care and focus on Your will being done in the world. Amen.