MS Week #18: Withering Grass

Brad Libolt speaking on James 1:9-11, Brad discusses how the lowly people will be exalted and the rich will be brought low. Looking at the Gospel, he encourages us to know that God did this for us – Jesus was made low so that man could be exalted.

James 1:9-11


  • Imagine there is a king and he has everything. He has all the power, riches, money, etc. All in his kingdom are incredibly poor. They are deprived of everything. In order to be saved from their impoverished states, the only way would be for the king to become like them.
  • That should sound familiar because that’s what Jesus did for us. We are impoverished people. We are sinful and distant and the only way we can have that place is to be with God. When God acts, when he’s up to something, it’s always something opposite of something we would’ve expected. When God acts, the low people are exalted, and the ones exalted become low.

“9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation”

  • The lowly brother is someone who is humble and poor. The lowly person can see himself from God’s point of view and see that he is raised up. Why is the humble person exalted in God’s eyes?
  • It is because humility is the first step in accepting the gospel. Jesus came and died on the cross for our sins. He rose again and saved us from death. 
  • The first thing we have to recognize and understand is that we are sinners and need Jesus before we can truly accept him. We are broken and need a savior. Humility is the first step in accepting the gospel.
  • Ask yourselves, are you living in humility? Where is your heart right now? Do you recognize that you are in fact a sinner, and need the grace of God? Is your heart humble, or is it proud? When can recognize this, we will be exalted and lifted up.

“10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away.”

  • James is using irony here. We as humans think the rich are exalted and humble are put low. But, in our minds, we think monetary possessions elevate our status, yet in God’s eyes, that means nothing.
  • The irony is, that they will be brought low. The humble person will be exalted, and the opposite will happen for the person who is exalted on earth.
  • So look at this from two points of view:
    • The believer, lowly person, looks ahead into his future and is exalted because of his belief in the gospel which starts with humility. He will be lifted up.
    • The non-believer looks ahead into the same future, but rather than being lifted up he is brought down from his high place. He is brought down because the things he has devoted his life to are going to pass away, just like him.
  • This does NOT mean all rich people are unbelievers. James is saying that people in this life who idolize other things will pass away. But those who choose humility, and worship God, will be lifted up because of our belief in the gospel.
  • This can include people who are wealthy. It is all about the heart. Is your heart humble, or is it exalted?

“11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.”

  • This is what happens to people who pursue exaltation. All the possessions or materialistic things you are focused on are temporary. They will eventually fade away.
  • The language James uses is through an eternal perspective. Think of the image here, the death and desolation that results in the rich person choosing not to humble himself, but rather to pursue self advancement and exaltation.
  • When we go to Heaven, what’s going to come with us? Nothing will come with us. Everything in this life will pass away. But what happens to our soul depends on the whether or not we believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • When God acts, the low are raised up and the high are brought down.
  • Think about that in relation to the gospel. Jesus was in a high place, he was exalted in the presence of the Father. But in God’s act of salvation, because of His love for us, he was made low, low to the point of death on a cross.
  • And through his death, the wrath bearing sacrifice he made on our behalf, and his resurrection, we can be exalted.
  • Exalted Jesus was made low so that lowly man could be exalted. That’s what God is in the business of doing, and that’s what he has done for you and me.
  • So if you feel low, if you recognize your sin and depravity, take heart. Have hope. Remind yourself that God will raise you up on the last day to be with him in paradise.
  • If you feel exalted, like you have everything you need, I would think about the flower that withers in the sun. Think about what matters in this life. This life and the things in it don’t last forever. Have hope, because it is never too late. Choose to humble yourself, fall to the foot of the cross in recognition of your need for God, and he will raise you up as well.
  • Live life in the mindset that your life on this earth is temporary, and you are headed towards eternity.

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