“But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position; and let the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away” (James 1:9-10).
God does not exempt any believer, rich or poor, from trials and suffering.
There is a basic principle of life that we all know to be true—namely, that trials and sufferings do not exclude privileged people. This is a humbling truth that we don’t always like to acknowledge, yet it operates before us regularly in such things as natural disasters. No one can deny that large-scale floods, hurricanes, or earthquakes affect both rich and poor, young and old, educated and uneducated; all races and classes are susceptible to pain, hardship, and even death during such events. After a major earthquake, for example, nearly everyone feels the effects of disruptions in transportation and communication. And the ground’s violent shaking can damage or destroy both modest bungalows and expensive mansions.
The realization that God does not show favoritism in sending trials and difficulties is also quite sobering and humbling for those in the Body of Christ. As today’s first verse suggests, the challenge for poor believers is in realizing that they can rejoice in their exalted spiritual position as Christians (1 Peter 1:3-6), no matter how lowly their earthly status might be. Current economic hardship does not diminish the glories of our future inheritance (see Eph. 1:11-14).
The challenge for wealthier believers is to accept the “humiliation” that trials bring, remembering that such tests will make them more dependent on God and His grace rather than on earthly riches. Such wealth is only temporary, and it fades away like the grass of the field.
Once we grasp the truth of this equalizing factor, we will be more inclined to declare with sincerity, “My resources are in God.” The divine impartiality revealed through trials also has a wonderful unifying effect on the church. The commentator R.C.H. Lenski summarized it this way: “As the poor brother forgets all his earthly poverty, so the rich brother forgets all his earthly riches. The two are equals by faith in Christ.”
Suggestions for Prayer
Ask the Lord to give you a better appreciation for His evenhandedness in bringing trials our way.
For Further Study
Read Hebrews 12:3-13.
- What are some parallels between this passage and what we have been studying about trials?
- Does God exempt any believer from correction?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.