Heart in Hand: Common Standing
James 1:9-18, NIV 2011 9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. 12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
We are to take pride in our standing.
James 1:9-11, NIV 2011 9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
Things we hold in common to our standing:
Our standing in “life” does not equal our standing in Christ.
Jeremiah 9:23-24, NIV 2011 “This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, 24 but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.”
Psalm 49:16-20, NIV 2011 16 Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; 17 for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them. 18 Though while they live they count themselves blessed—and people praise you when you prosper— 19 they will join those who have gone before them,who will never again see the light of life. 20 People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish.
We all have blind spots.
Isaiah 40:6b-8, NIV 2011 “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. 7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
Luke 18:18-25, NIV 2011 18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’ 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor,y and you will have treasure in heaven.z Then come, follow me.” 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!a 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
We are called to treat both wealth and poverty as gifts.
Philippians 4:10-13, NIV 2011 10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:14-20, NIV 2011 14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica,f you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
We must decide to manage whatever God gives us.
Luke 20:45-21:4, NIV 2011 45 While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
21:1 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Things to consider with our standing:
James 1:12-18, NIV 2011 12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
We need to examine our hearts consistently and often.
Testing is from the LORD and temptation is from ourselves.
Our hearts will give birth to either death or life.
1 Timothy 6:6-10, NIV 2011 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Timothy 6:17-19, NIV 2011 17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth,c which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
Colossians 4:6, NIV 2011 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Read James 1:9-11. As you reflect on James’ instruction about poverty and wealth what do you sense he means by taking pride in our situation - regardless of what it is? What do you sense his motivation for saying this was? (see James 1:2-8 for some possible context)
How does this passage speak to our “common standing” in the Gospel? How does/should it shape the way you view your own circumstance? What is most difficult about applying these truths to your life?
Read Luke 18:18-25. How does the story of the rich young ruler speak to the blind spots we all have in our lives? Why was he saddened when he walked away? Why did that make him sad? What formed the way he understand his wealth? What has formed yours?
Read Ephesians 1:3-14. How do these blessings exalt the Christian to his/her new status?
Read James 1:12-14. How do these verses speak to the role of temptation in the life of the believer? What is God’s role in testing? What about temptation? How does this impact your own understanding of temptation?
Read James 1:15-18. How do these verses challenge the way you see God and your responses to trials and temptations? Do you find any reassurance in these verses?
What are some temptations you are facing right now? How are they connected to your tests? (remember you can be tempted while being tested, but that doesn’t mean that God is doing it.)
What are some ways that we can become more aware of the source of temptations and how during our tests to best handle them?