Faithlife Sermons

The Letter of James 1:9-11

The Letter of James  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →
Last week we covered . James shares some essentials that every believer should possess to overcome trials. First, we need to have a joyful attitude when going through trials. This is only possible if we consider the end result and trust that our endurance will grow, become fully developed. By the way, this is a supernatural working of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
When we have an understanding mind of what trials can bring, we then must surrender our will and trust in God alone, not wavering like a person with divided loyalty.
Lastly, we need a heart that wants to believe. If you lack wisdom, knowledge on how to handle various trials, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. If you’re not able to see the opportunity to grow as you go through trials, ask God for help. He will provide it.
We summed up verses 2-8 like this.
Trials demand wisdom —> wisdom demands prayer —> and prayer demands faith
Get ready for a few more link words/concepts as we take a look at the next section in James.
As we’ll see, verse 9 and 10 are linked with the word boast and the concept of the poor and the rich. The poor have something to boast about; God has honored them. The rich should boast because God has humbled them.
Let’s read .
James 1:9–11 NLT
9 Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. 10 And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. 11 The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.
James seems to warn his readers about:

Misguided Priorities

James uses an interesting contrasting parallel. The only noticeable difference between the two groups is that one group is poor and one group is rich. They both get to boast, though God honors one group and God humbles one.
The old testament often uses poor and rich as a symbol of a good person and an evil person. I don’t believe that’s the case here. In the context of chapter 1, it sounds like James is referring to literal rich and poor, wealth and poverty. Also, he seems to echo Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 9:23–24 NLT
23 This is what the Lord says: “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. 24 But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord, have spoken!
James is calling believers to look beyond the world’s view of success. He’s calling them to see from God’s perspective of them. He is urging them not to find purpose and significance in their earthly identity but in their spiritual identity. Ultimately, we don’t base our worth or the worth of others on what one has or doesn’t have.
The poor can feel powerless, oppressed and insignificant based on their lack of wealth, influence and position. James is reminding them that their true status is in Christ alone. He’s also suggesting that others do not look down on them based on this fact, but to treat the poor and the rich as equals.
To the rich, he is warning them not to think too highly of themselves because even though they might have influence and status here on earth, all of this will one day pass away. As a rich believer, don’t become dependent on wealth for security. Don’t allow the cares of this world to choke out the word of God. Instead, become humble, think of yourself less, identify with the circumstances of the poor, love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Where do you place your confidence?

Money, status, position? James is challenging them to identify where their commitment lies. Riches are unstable. You have some one day, and it’s gone the next.
Fundamentally, I believe James is reminding his original readers that all people are of equal value, regardless of their wealth or poverty. We’ll see this come up throughout his letter. The poor should be glad that they are now a children of God. The rich should be glad that God has accepted them on the basis of who they are, not what they have.
How does the idea of rich and poor fit in the context of what we’ve already covered?
Believers must remain complete in Christ through various trials. Not giving in to the temptations to think less of themselves or others because of their lack of wealth. And, not to think more highly of oneself or others because of their wealth. James is expounding on verse 8 where he’s referring to people who ask God for wisdom but their trust isn’t in God alone. What is their trust in?
James 1:8 NLT
8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
As Jesus puts it:
Matthew 6:24 NLT
24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.
It sounds to me that their trust is in earthly things. James is telling them to evaluate and reexamine their sources of confidence by spiritual and not material standards.
It sounds to me that their trust is in earthly things. James is telling them to Evaluate and reexamine their sources of confidence by spiritual and not material standards.
I believe James is asking his original readers to see poverty and wealth as the greatest “test” for believers. Not to waver, not to be unstable, not to let their loyalty or commitment to be divided between God and the world.
What needs to be clarified is he is not referring to the actual money itself; he’s referring to what wealth offers. Consequently, it provides the temptation to be self-sufficient, self-reliant, not keeping one’s complete trust in God. It can cause divided loyalty.
Remember that “Rich” is a relative term. More than 90% of Americans are considered rich compared to the world population.
As one commentator puts it:
“James teaches us that although wealth is not inherently evil, the pursuit of riches can distract us from pursuing God. Let us acknowledge the temporary nature of money and use it for God’s eternal purposes, whether we have much or little of it.”
Remember that “Rich” is a relative term. More than 90% of Americans are considered rich compared to the world population.

Knowing that one day this life will end, What are we pursuing?

Wealth, poverty? Life is all temporary. We’re all here on earth for a short time, just a blip on the screen.
What gets our attention?
Where do we spend our energy?
What is our focus on?
It's easy to get distracted from what truly matters.
In my Life Skills class, I teach a simple equation that we all inherently know but don’t always practice.

Decisions = Destination.

It’s so simple, but sometimes, it seems as if we don’t believe it is true.
I remember when I was in elementary school. I loved to do mazes. You know the little maze on a sheet of paper with a start and finish. You have to draw a line from the start and make it to the finish. Well, I figured out how to complete it quickly. Most of the time without any dead ends.
Does anyone know the secret?

Start at the finish.

The first thing I would do is locate the finish area. I would start there and work my way back to the start. This method is so much more efficient. It helped prevent me from going the wrong way and ending up at a dead end. It’s so much more difficult to find your way to the finishIf you blindly begin at the start without a clear understanding of where you need to go. Each turn, each decision has the chance to take you to the finish or take you to a dead end.
In life, the same trick applies.
Where do you want to finish?
What’s your final destination?
I’m not necessarily speaking about location, but what kind of person do you want to be?
If you were able to write your own eulogy, sometime in your twenties, and everything that you wrote would all come true, what would you write?
What kind of person would you end up becoming?
How will others think of you?
What great endeavors have you accomplished?
How many people have you help?
How many people have you discipled?
How many building, schools, parks or monuments are named after you or built in your honor?
What would you write if there were no limits on what you could do or become?
Would what you write speak of Gods great love for others?
What will come to mind as someone reads your eulogy?
What kind of person do they see you as?
That’s where we should start. We begin at the end and make our way back to the start. If we understand and believe that decisions = destination, then we must locate the destination first. This is where I want to end. This is the kind of person I want to be.
I believe James provides a destination that we all should seek. He gives us the directions, the decisions, the attitude that will take us there. Now we ask, what steps do I need to take to get there? Am I making the right decisions today that’s leading me to my intended destination?
If I go this way, I’ll probably run into a dead end. Nope, not going to do that. If I focus too much on this, this is where I’ll end up.

When we start with the end in mind, we’re able to avoid many of the distractions of life and focus on what really matters.

To know Christ and to make him known.
Related Media
Related Sermons