The low are raised, the rich brought low…


James 1:9 Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, 10 and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away. 

This letter is written to a young church comprised of people still trying to figure out what it means to be the church. The book of Acts tells us that one of the hallmarks of the church was the leveling of the social order deeply entrenched in Roman culture. Two dimensions of the “leveling” are noted here.

First, there is the material change in the church. We are told that people, rich and poor, shared everything in common. The practical result would be wealthy people being materially less prosperous since their assets were given to the church. The “lowly” or would be raised up, no longer having to struggle to survive. Everyone, rich and poor, would have what the needed.

Second is the change in social status. Slaves and masters held the same social standing in the church, as did Jews or Greeks. Again, the high-born people would experience community with the lowly and vice versa. I wonder if James is talking about this because this was a hard thing to swallow for some people, particularly those who came into the church as nobles. They would have sacrificed much to become Christians, but James reminds them in this passage that wealth and status is very temporary – as is a flower that blossoms only to be scorched by the heat of the sun.

Jesus told us we would have to sacrifice much, carry our cross, to enter eternal life. This morning I’m wondering what it is the Lord needs me to let go of in order to live more fully as a child of God.

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