James 1:9-11 “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 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.”
If we aren’t careful, we will remove James 1:9-11 out of the flow of James 1, setting them aside to themselves to become dis-jointed proverbial sayings. But the flow and topic of the passage before these three verses is the same as it is right after, and these verses are right here to help us understand something that is foundational to living by faith: genuine faith is the great equalizer and unifier.
James 1:9 says, “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:” The brothers of “low degree” – these are the humble to which God gives grace in James 4:6. These are the men of low estate in Romans 12:16. These are those of low degree that the Lord exalts in Luke 1:52. These are those that are cast down that God comforteth in II Corinthians 7:6. These are the base, as Paul described himself in II Corinthians 10:1. These are those who are humble; they don’t have much in the physical world, but they have the right heart and right perspective about life.
I. Biblical Faith Overcomes the Inadequacies of the Humble
Notice, though, the present tense of the grammar, here in verse 9: rejoice in that he is exalted. This brother, because of the indwelling presence of Christ inside of him, as he lives by faith, he is brought up out of his low estate to be useful to God. His limited resources and physical conditions don’t matter, because as he asks in faith, nothing waivering, the God of all creation hears and answers His prayer.
The rich, also can rejoice: “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.”
II. Biblical Faith Overcomes the Ways of the Rich
The subject of concern for the rich man is defined at the end of verse eleven: “in his ways.” When the rich man is walking by faith, living by the power of the Holy Spirit, he will be walking in the way of God, instead of in his own ways. Living for a life of riches, luxury, and prestige will be replaced with the same lowly heart and humility that those of low degree exercise. Such a man will realize that life in the flesh is temporary, but what is done for Christ will last. Then, it is through this focus that his riches no longer make a difference in his life; living by faith for the cause of Christ is what matters.
The rich and the poor; the humble and the proud are then equalized and unified in a common burden. What I have doesn’t matter. My inadequacies don’t matter. What matters is Christ, and what He accomplishes in and through you and me. Biblical faith is the common denominator.
Galatians 3:26-28 “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. (27) For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”