By Jason Bowman
Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower James 1:9-10
Wealth is not primarily an indicator of God’s evaluation of us nor is wealth inherently evil or good. Being rich does not automatically mean God’s favor, and being poor does not automatically mean God’s judgment. These kinds of underlying assumptions create huge problems for us when it comes to dealing with money. Yet, they also distract us from the main struggle: Does money have an unhealthy and unmanageable control over you?
Money has power. It often dictates how we see ourselves and others. It can drive us to do things we know are wrong. It can lead us away from the truth of God. On the other hand, money’s power can also be good. It can provide for our families, give us great life experiences and be used to help others.
How do we control money instead of allowing money to control us?
James believes the answer lay in our connection to Christ. For those who are poorer or lower in society, James says boast in your exaltation (1:9). That may sound strange until we think about our position in Christ. You may be lowly in this world, but you are seated with Christ in heaven. Instead of letting the lack of money define who you are, James says take pride in the truth of your position in Christ. Let that be your confidence and the deciding factor in defining who you are and what you will be about in this life. By having that focus, you can put money into the right perspective and keep it from controlling you.
For those who are richer or higher in society, James says boast in your humiliation (1:10). That may also sound strange, but again we look to Jesus. The Father exalted Christ because of his humiliation, not because of his wealth or power. Jesus stated clearly that he came to serve, not to be served. He spent his life giving to others. James says let that be your focus. Define yourself not by your wealth, but by how you serve and sacrifice for others in the name of Jesus. Don’t let wealth dictate your life. Lean fully into your relationship with Christ to determine who you are and what you will be in this life. By having that focus, you can put money in the right perspective and keep it from controlling you.
How do you feel about money? Be honest with yourself. How has or does it control your life? Do you need to focus on “exaltation” with Christ or “humiliation” with Christ? Evaluate how money drives you. Then remind yourself who you are in Christ and ask him how to use the money you possess for the kingdom of God.