Dave continued the Bible study on James last night, looking at James 1:9-12. This discussion on the brother in humble circumstances and the rich must not be taken out of the context of James’s words on enduring through trials and persevering in times of testing. Whether we consider material wealth (or lack of it) or spiritual wealth (or lack of it) to be the main points of discussion here, James reinforces the topsy-turvy teaching of Jesus, that humility always has to precede exaltation and that we need to keep the ‘long vision’ in view if we are not to become discouraged. Asaph certainly knew all about the dangers of looking at the rich and envying them (see Psalm 73.) The answer to those nagging doubts is to enter the sanctuary and look not only at who God is but at the sure and certain justice of God. As the Parable of the Rich Fool illustrates (Luke 12:13-21) and as James reiterates, wealth is transitory (“the rich will fade away even while they go about their business”), but those who learn perseverance will ultimately receive the crown of life (James 1:12).

It’s not always easy to keep perspective and James was writing to Christians who were undoubtedly suffering great hardship. But, as Paul reminds us in Romans 8, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Rom 8:18) That is the fuel that keeps us persevering through all the trials James talks about in chapter 1.