This morning I'm reading James 1:9-10 and it's making me uncomfortable. It says:
"Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation...."
So, why you wonder, does this passage make me uncomfortable????
Believe it or not, it has nothing to do with riches.
It makes me uncomfortable because I am a staunch hater of change. Even while I was a kid, I rejoiced in routine. Wearing the same grungy 25¢ garage-sale sweatshirt day in and day out, eating the same bowl of Fruity Pebbles morning after morning, my routines brought comfort and joy to my change-resistant heart. It didn't matter if what I had wasn't particularly wonderful. All that mattered was that it never changed.
But what does change have to do with James 1:9-10?
On first glance, absolutely nothing. This passage seems to be about riches. But if you read closely, the passage tells us that both the man made low and the man exalted should "glory" in their circumstance. But what is their only common circumstance?
So the challenge of this passage, I realized this morning, is to embrace change, whether it's change that improves your circumstances or steals the very life right out of your hands. And for a change-hater like me, that's not fun. Embrace poverty? Sure, I could get used to Ramen noodles. Embrace riches? Why not???? I can just as easily ride in a Rolls Royce as my old Toyota. But do both? In the same lifetime???
You see, I'm the kind of person that loves to pray Proverbs 30:7-9. It says,
"One thing I ask of You, LORD,
Do not refuse me before I die...
Give me neither poverty nor riches,
But give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise I may have too much and disown You
And say, 'Who is the LORD?'
Or I may become poor and steal
And so dishonor the name of my God."
Basically, the heart of this prayer is: "Don't ever change my circumstances, God. Give me hum-drum, same-old, day-to-day living that never changes, because that's all I want to handle. Not the temptations of poverty or riches, just give me the satisfaction of temptation-free living without change."
But reviewing this favorite prayer of mine this morning I realized, I have been literally praying myself out of a blessing! What blessing, you wonder???? Well frankly, the blessing of being tempted by changing circumstances and change itself.
You see, the man who prays to have unchanged circumstances will never be tempted, so he will never reap the fruit of temptation that comes from changing circumstances- in the case of this prayer, the fruit of learning to be rich without disowning God, or learning to be poor without dishonoring God.
So how will this change my life?
As of this morning I will no longer pray, "LORD, give me neither poverty nor riches." Instead, I will pray, "LORD, give me both poverty and riches, so that in whatever state I am in, constant or changing, I will learn to honor the name of the LORD my God, and count Jesus as my only portion and prize no matter what my circumstances."
And though this prayer scares me, I will pray it without fear, fully confident in the One who enables me, the One who equips me to say "I can do all things" (and bear all changes!) because of "Christ who gives me strength" (Phil 4:13).
Thank you, Jesus, for giving me the courage to embrace change. Help me not to shirk away from it, but to lean into it with the full assurance of Your guiding hand that uses it to make me grow and experience greater dependence on You and greater joy in You. Love, Alex
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