James 1:9

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, James 1:9

In the Greek, there is a conjunction which is left out here. It says, “But let the lowly brother…” The person referred to here is set in contrast to the double-minded person just mentioned. The “lowly brother” isn’t speaking of someone who is humble in spirit, as one might suppose. Rather, it is referring to a person who is truly poor, in difficult straits, afflicted, etc. It is a literal state of lack which exists in his life. For such a person, James says that he should “glory in his exaltation.”

The idea here is not that he goes from his state of poverty to that of becoming wealthy, but rather that in his poverty he has been exalted through the gospel. No matter what a person’s state is in this physical world, if he is a saved believer in Jesus Christ, that person can glory in his exaltation. He has acquired the greatest riches of all which no amount of gold or silver could purchase.

Life application: What James is essentially saying here, and in the coming verse, is in line with literally dozens of verses of the Bible. Someone who lacks humility is there to please himself or to let others know how great he thinks he is. Such a person can’t be pleasing to the Lord in any way. This is because a person like this thinks he “deserves” heaven. But we all fall short of God’s glory. A person who is humbled in his life’s estate will understand this. Moses was such a person –

“(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)” Numbers 12:3

Moses was exalted because he understood that he was just a mere man – no better than any others and not deserving of any special consideration. The arrogant and boastful feel they deserve such consideration. The Psalms speak a good deal on humility, but in particular this verse fits what James is saying quite nicely –

“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the humble with salvation.” Psalm 149:4

Only when we realize our own fallen and lowly state will we ever come to the foot of the cross and ask Jesus to save us. As long as we feel we merit God’s favor, we will never do this. But by bowing down to Jesus, God crowns us with salvation. Have you come to the end of your own arrogance and haughtiness? If not, God can’t look upon you with favor. Hand over your boastfulness and acknowledge Jesus is your only hope… and He will satisfy your soul.

Lord, may our souls not be haughty or arrogant in Your presence, but rather may we understand our lowly position. You are God; we are the work of Your hands. May we never be presumptuous or boastful about that which You alone have bestowed upon us in our lives. In the end, may You alone be glorified through who we are and what we possess. Amen.

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