Jas 1:9-11 “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.”
We need to note that the subject of verse nine is “brother.” We have under consideration the brother who is humbled or cast down and the brother that is abundantly wealthy. Without respect of persons, we are to embrace both as being family.
When considering the brother of low degree, we need to also consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:3; “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” The brother who is poor in spirit has the kingdom of heaven. By being poor in spirit, we are enabled to acknowledge that we need a Savior. We are not ashamed to put our trust in something greater than ourselves. There is joy and consolation in knowing that we have a kingdom given us by our Lord and Master where we sit with Him in heavenly places. Being poor in spirit (of low degree) is a blessing from God that keeps us from thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought.
While the brother of low degree rejoices that he is exalted in the love of Jesus, the brother who is rich rejoices that he is made low. Jesus told his disciples that “a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven (Mat 19:23).” When the disciples, in amazement, asked “Who then can be saved? (Mat 19:25)”, Jesus told them “With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Mat 19:26).” As long as a man feels himself to be wealthy in power and knowledge, he will not seek the wisdom of God.
God, by His grace, brings the rich man to an estate of low degree. In other words, He causes the rich man to become poor in spirit. Being made poor in spirit, the rich man now can also rejoice in the kingdom of heaven. A rich man being made low is the result of the wondrous light of the truth as it is in Christ shining in the heart. This light causes the grass (support) of our supposed wealth to wither. The word translated as wither can also mean “to mature (see Strong’s).” When the light of God’s truth shines in our hearts, the things we trusted in when we deemed ourselves rich fade and we begin to mature in our walk with Jesus.
As the grass withers in this marvelous light, the flower (those things we deemed gracious) falls and dies. We are left with nothing of our vain wealth and by His mercy we are able to cling only to Him. Notice that the last verse says “so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.” It is the ways (walk, attitude, proceeding) of the rich man that fades away. As the rich man is converted and made of low degree, then he rejoices in that he is elevated to the feet of Jesus!
Whether rich or poor, bond or free, Jew or Greek, our experience in coming to Christ is ultimately the same. We are humbled before the Almighty God of heaven and earth. He, by the light of truth in Jesus Christ, lifts us up to sit in this kingdom of heaven here. We find joy and rejoicing in the presence of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. In the sameness of our experience we are made brothers regardless of where we might have started from.
May we rejoice together, whether we started out of low degree or rich, in the fact that the same grace has saved us and called us from darkness into His marvelous light!