Click here to review part one in this series, James 1:1-8 – Maturing Through Difficulty
Verse 9 - Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation . . .
• Notice the terms “lowly” and “brother.”
• “Brother” refers to a believer who is part of the family of God.
• “Lowly” refers to a believer who has been through the fire of difficulty and decided to trust God no matter what. He has humbled himself before God.
• God will exalt the lowly.
• People who have struggled through hard times in life and learned to endure difficulty often have a deep faith and a close relationship with God that few understand.
• They may not be able to articulate their faith with fancy theological terms or explain complex doctrines, but they know the deep love of Jesus and they trust that love to carry them through the hard times in life.
• An example of enduring suffering with grace . . . .
• Maxim Toussaint is a Haitian Christian working through the Presbyterian Church. Though no year is easy in Haiti, 2010 was particularly challenging. Toussaint describes 2010 as ‘a year of trials’ after losing his house and job due to the January earthquake, then watching his community flood after Hurricane Tomas hit in November and he has now seen 3400 people die from the cholera epidemic. Yet, his faith in God remains strong.
• Maxim Toussaint is not boasting about his ability to survive.
• Maxim Toussaint is boasting about the power of God to help him endure the trails he has experienced and live for the Lord in spite of his circumstances.
• As Christians, we should give God glory when our circumstances force us to draw closer to God. We should exalt Jesus in hard times.
Verse 10 - but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.
• When James uses the term “rich,” he is not referring to a person’s economic status
• James is referring to how a person views himself in relation to the world around him.
• A “rich” person thinks he is in control.
• A “rich” person thinks the world revolves around him and his goals and ideas.
• A “rich” person cares little for others.
• When a hurricane strikes, or a flood happens, or the doctor uses the word “cancer,” we realize we are not in control after all.
• In that moment, what matters is how much faith we have in God.
• A “rich” person should rejoice when their illusion of control is ripped away because it allows him to focus on the Lord better.
Verse 12 - Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
• Natural disasters, physical illness or financial issues are not the only hardships we face.
• Some of our greatest struggles are the temptations we fight in our own minds.
• Each of us has our own unique issues, but all of us have some sin we struggle with (Hebrews 12:1).
• Part of growing in our faith is learning to overcome the temptations that so easily overtake us.
• Sometimes temptations disappear on their own over time, but often we have to learn how to endure temptation without giving in.
• The “crown of life” refers to a reward God will give to all Christians who love Him.
• Though scholars have various opinions about exactly what this crown represents in eternity.
• Many think that it symbolizes the freedom to live life fully once we have finally overcome the temptation for our “pet” sin.
• Verse 13 - Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
• When we think about temptation, we often love to blame others.
• Sometimes, we even blame God by saying “This is just the way God made me.”
• God never tempts us to do wrong.
• We cannot blame our faults on God.
• Verse 14 - But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
• We are sometimes tempted by Satan.
• But most of the time, our temptations come from our own desires.
• When our attention is drawn away from Christ and toward ourselves, we are easily enticed.
• The Greek word for “desires” is epithymia and it can also be translated as “lust.”
• Though we often equate lust with sexual attraction, we can actually lust after anything.
• Lust is a natural desire that we have allowed to become an unnatural obsession.
• We may not be able to stop a natural thought from entering into our minds, but we can keep from dwelling on those thoughts by focusing on Christ and His Word.
Verse 15 - Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
• Once we allow those natural thoughts to have an unnatural control in our lives, what was first a simple desire, becomes a sin.
• Sin, when it is finished with us, brings death.
• Remember that the first century view of death was separation.
• Sin always separates us from God and people.
Verses 16-17 - Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
• James did not want us to be tricked by our own lust.
• James did not want us to play the “blame game” and try to blame our sin on other people or on God.
• James wants us to accept the reality that most sin comes from our own natural desires that we let have an unnatural control over us.
• James also wants us to realize that anything in our lives that is good, is a gift from God.
• God gives us good gifts, because it is in His nature to do so.
• The phrase “there is no variation” means that God does not have “good” days and “bad” days. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is always good. (Hebrews 13:8)
• “Rich” people falsely think they are in control.
• When bad things happen in our lives, we realize that God is the one who is in control.
• We often make our lives more difficult due to our sins.
• When we learn to allow God to control us, instead of blaming our sins on others, we begin to see God’s goodness all around us, even in things that did not look good at first glance.