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Rich, Humbled, Loved: James 1:10

Previous verse: Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted.

But the rich, in that he is made low; because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. (KJV)
And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. (NLT)

Admittedly, being "made low" seems like a bizarre and counter-intuitive thing to "boast" about. I mean, how many of us, when we're humiliated or reprimanded, feel an urge to go and celebrate and share our mistake with the world? I think it goes against our prideful nature to rejoice when something humbles us; it's uncomfortable, difficult, often painful, and as humans we tend to have an aversion to feeling inferior, insignificant, or small.

James tells us here about the rich man who should rejoice in being humbled from his high and lofty state. This, of course, is in keeping with many biblical teachings that make it clear: there's no spiritual benefit to being wealthy. We have the example of the rich young ruler who left Jesus depressed because he couldn't give up his wealth, and Jesus himself made the point when he said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

But just like the word "poor" has more meaning than mere poverty, there is more to being "rich" than just monetary abundance.

Rich: having high value or quality.

Now, isn't that interesting? When we value ourselves too highly or live in a false perception of our own spiritual quality, we can start to think of ourselves as the be-all-end-all. God can be pushed out of our lives; we might fancy ourselves top-notch Christians and stop listening to His words of correction; maybe we stop turning to Him for help and strength, believing we can handle things ourselves. Obviously, this is a dangerous way to live, and sooner or later our "rich" attitude is going to leave us high and dry, inconsequential as the flower in the field that's here one day, gone the next.

That's why we can boast when God humbles us—because He's saving us from ourselves and bringing us back to Him. Not because of anything we've done or accomplished, but because God cares enough about us to look after our spiritual good, even if that means a painful reminder of how small we really are next to Him.

Works Cited

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

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