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Poor and Exalted: James 1:9

Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted. (James 1:9, KJV)
Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honoured them. (James 1:9, NLT)

While I usually like to look at the King James Version for the purpose of the word study, this particular verse struck me in different ways through both the KJV and the New Living Translation. In the NLT, I especially like the word "poor", and upon looking it up I discovered the word to have more spiritual meaning than expected.

Poor: lacking material possessions; relating to or characterized by poverty; less than adequate: MEAGER; small in worth; exciting pity; inferior in quality or value.

Oh, don't you just love a spiritually applicable definition?

I recognize myself in these words in so many different ways, and know this definition probably applies to most of us believers. We as humans are inadequate, having so much work yet to be done in our hearts, so many habits and tendencies to be brought into submission, so many flaws to be ironed out before we can meet God's standard. We are small in worth—what value can we possibly bring to God?—and so far inferior to those soldiers of Christ who are more disciplined, more wise, more experienced than we are.

But here's the awesome part: despite our shortcomings, we still have something to boast about.

Exalted: to raise high; to raise in rank, power, or character; to elevate by praise of estimation; to enhance the activity of.

Though we are poor and unworthy, we can boast in Christ who has lifted us high—out of sin into freedom, and eventually into GLORY—and elevated our characters by his sanctification in us. He is enhancing us, perfecting us, making us more active, productive servants of his Kingdom, and in this we have cause to rejoice, for God has exalted the unworthy!

Works Cited

Mish, Frederick C. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. 9th ed., Merriam-Webster Inc., 1983.

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