Exploring the Book of Ya’aqov, Pt. 3
And let the brother who is humble take pride in his exaltation, and the one who is rich, in his humiliation, because, as a flower of grass, he will pass away. For as the sun rises with the burning heat, and THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER OF IT FALLS, and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed, so also the rich man in his pursuits will fade away! Happy is the man who perseveres through the ways of testing, because, becoming proven in his faith, he will receive the crown of the Life, which the Master promised to those loving Him. (יַעֲקֹב Ya’aqov 1:9-12, mjlt)
From the moment that mankind became capable of accumulating wealth, there have existed the extremes of those who have abounded in material riches, and those who have had little to none. While this outward inequality may seem to some an immoral injustice, to others it is no more than natural economic reality. Many, in the hopes of doing good, may seek to relieve the plight of the poor—some through voluntary charity, others by forceful rule of law. But in Messiah, all who are wealthy and all who go without will become equalized—not in the things we have, but in the character of who we are.
The way in which this equalization is accomplished appears, at first blush, contradictory, as it runs opposite to what we would normally expect. Nevertheless, “let the brother who is humble take pride in his exaltation, and the one who is rich, in his humiliation.” To suggest that someone who is “humble” ought to “take pride” in anything seems initially counterintuitive. But this particular “pride” is the kind that allows the humble brother to accept his reality in Messiah, which is, exalted. At the same time, while one might expect a rich person to already be full of selfish pride, he is nonetheless to “take pride” as well—not in his wealth, status, or success, but in the reality of his humiliation.
But why would a rich person be humiliated? “[B]ecause, as a flower of grass, he will pass away.” Though we may normally associate wealth with prestige, privilege, and perhaps even a greater responsibility to society at large, the rich one is also at a disadvantage to “the brother who is humble,” since, as he seeks to retain and grow his wealth, eventually, “the rich man in his pursuits will fade away!” Every beautiful and precious thing he owns will ultimately be destroyed, and, in the end, while all his material possessions are being burned in the fire, the light of destruction will only serve to illumine his humiliation.
Does this mean that it is wrong to be rich? Not at all. It only means that, in Messiah, “the one who is rich [ought to take pride] in his humiliation.” In other words, just as the humble brother can accept his exalted reality in Messiah, the rich brother can accept his humiliation in Messiah. Through Yeshua, both men find their value—not in the things they have, nor in the things they lack, but in their equal and shared pursuit of God.
And what of the humble brother? How can his lack be reason for exaltation? “Happy is the man who perseveres through the ways of testing, because, becoming proven in his faith, he will receive the crown of the Life, which the Master promised to those loving Him.” Perseverance proves faith, which crowns the humble brother with Life.
Anyone, rich or humble, will find this exaltation. Though ways of testing have served to destroy many a man, we as Messiah’s disciples can find happiness in it—as long as we persevere. Perseverance produces happiness because it elevates our self-worth and inner spirit as we endure in Messiah, ultimately leading to eternal Life. By pressing on in the face of adversity, we prove—to God, but especially to ourselves—that our faith is stronger than any inherent, situational, or imagined weakness. By enduring times of testing, we humble ourselves only to be further exalted, as we demonstrate the reality of our trust and hope in God.
Today is the day for you to humbly persevere and prove your faith, so that you “will receive the crown of the Life, which the Master promised to those loving Him.” To live forever, then, in the presence of Yeshua—this is the greatest (and most humbling) exaltation of them all.
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