Exaltation and Humiliation (James 1:9-11)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“Exaltation and Humiliation”

(James 1:9-11)

Series: Living the Faith [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

October 22, 2017


Good morning, church.  Please be seated.

We’re so glad that each and every one of you is here today!

My name is Matt McCraw and I’m the pastor here at First Baptist Church of Bartow.

I’m glad to see you all.  If you’re a guest, please take some time to fill out the “What’s Up?” card in the bulletin.  You can drop that off in the offering plate later in the service.  We would love to have a record of your visit with us!

As we come to worship, let’s focus our hearts and minds by turning to the Word of God.

Scripture Reading

Read Romans 5:1-2 (CSB) [on screen]

1 Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

Opening Prayer

Stand now as we continue to worship the Lord!

(musical worship time)

Introductory Comments:

Go ahead and find your place in James 1:9-11

We’re going to talk about everyone’s favorite topic this morning: money!  Well, we’re sort of talking about money.

James has just finished his sections on joy in trials and asking God for wisdom, and doing so in faith.

Now, he transitions a bit to talk about a different topic.

James now speaks about the humble and the wealthy.

Let’s see what he has to say.

Let’s read James 1:9-11.

Read the Passage

(Read James 1:9-11)

Let the brother of humble circumstances boast in his exaltation, 10 but let the rich boast in his humiliation because he will pass away like a flower of the field. 11 For the sun rises and, together with the scorching wind, dries up the grass; its flower falls off, and its beautiful appearance perishes. In the same way, the rich person will wither away while pursuing his activities.”

Let’s pray together.


We’re going to see in this passage that James has three words to share with us.

First, James has . . .

I. A Word to the Humble (v. 9) [on screen]

James tells the brother of humble circumstances to boast in his exaltation.

Wait, what?  Those in “humble circumstances” are to boast in their exaltation?

Some different translations say something other than “humble circumstances.”

The ESV and NKJV say, “the lowly brother.”

The NLT says, “Believers who are poor.”

The KJV says, “the brother of low degree.”

None of these translations seem to give any reason for this person to think that they are exalted.

Well, remember that James is writing to Christians.  So he is not just speaking to all people who are without wealth.  He is speaking to Christians who are without wealth.

James says to Christians who are without wealth to boast in their exaltation.

Well, where is their exaltation?


Their exaltation is in Christ!

They have low status in terms of their money and assets, but they have the highest status possible in terms of the fact that they are in Jesus!

Many of the Jewish believers of the time were probably not very wealthy, as many of them were suffering persecution.

James is addressing that large portion of early Christians who had no material gain to brag about.

We’ll see throughout the letter of James that he will have a lot to say about worldly riches.

Here, he is saying, “Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of riches!  Be proud of who you are in Jesus!”

This word from James was an encouragement to the early believers and it should also be an encouragement to believers today who are from humble circumstances.

Well, James not only has a word for those in humble circumstances.  He also has . . .

II. A Word to the Rich (v. 10) [on screen]

(Read James 1:10)

10 but let the rich boast in his humiliation because he will pass away like a flower of the field.

Just as oddly as James says that a poor man is exalted, James says that a rich man is humbled.

Not only does he say that he is humbled, but he says that he should boast about it, or be proud of the fact that he is humbled.

Again, since it doesn’t make sense naturally to think of a rich person being brought low, we must understand that James is talking specifically to those who are in Christ and are wealthy.

Therefore, the humiliation that he is speaking of is referring to their being humbled before God by the work of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

To be clear, this humiliation is not an embarrassment, it’s the taking of a lower position.  It’s being humbled, or brought low.  Ideally, it’s the humbling of oneself.

It’s being brought low and humbling ourselves by coming before the cross of Jesus and saying, “I am nothing!  Jesus is everything!”

So, the rich person is to realize that his or her wealth brings them no greater value in the eyes of God.  Therefore they are not to boast in their wealth, but in their humble status as a servant of God.

Do you get it?

Our ultimate thanksgiving before God should not be the riches of this world, but the richness of the gospel.

Ask, “How long will our riches last us?”  At best, until the end of our lives!  Maybe not even that long!  Why then would we put our emotional fulfillment in something that is guaranteed to be temporary?  It will fade, guaranteed!

The Bible is pretty consistent in its stance against those who find their value in riches.

Listen to what else the Bible has to say on this topic.  You may want to write these references in your notes.

(Read Jeremiah 9:23-24)

23 “‘This is what the Lord says: The wise person should not boast in his wisdom; the strong should not boast in his strength; the wealthy should not boast in his wealth. 24 But the one who boasts should boast in this: that he understands and knows me—that I am the Lord, showing faithful love, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for I delight in these things. This is the Lord’s declaration.

Read Psalm 34:2

2 I will boast in the Lord; the humble will hear and be glad.

Read Psalm 44:8

8 We boast in God all day long; we will praise your name forever. Selah

Read 1 Corinthians 1:31

31 in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.

This is James’ point.  He is saying that if we are in Christ, we should boast in that fact alone!

That brings us to James’ final word, which is . . .

III. A Word to Us All (v. 11) [on screen]

(Read James 1:11)

11 For the sun rises and, together with the scorching wind, dries up the grass; its flower falls off, and its beautiful appearance perishes. In the same way, the rich person will wither away while pursuing his activities.

James now gives this illustration to point out what will happen to the riches of the wealthy.

Just as beautiful things in nature eventually pass away, so does the beauty of riches.

Illustration: I’ve experienced this fading of the beauty of grass first hand. When I bought my first home in Kentucky, I thought that I would improve my grass by planting some new fresh Kentucky fescue grass.  So, in the Spring, I planted this grass and it looked gorgeous.  The freshest, greenest, softest grass that you’ve ever seen.  Well, because it didn’t take root (because I planted it in the Spring rather than the Fall) when Summer time came, the Summer weather just scorched my beautiful grass and it all died.  Every last seed that I planted died away.

You see, just as my grass didn’t have the type of root to make it into the Summer, our earthly riches don’t have the type of roots that are needed to make it into eternity.

Some of you might be thinking, ok pastor, really what’s the big deal with having money.  Well, nothing really!  Having money is not the issue, it’s how we value money that’s the issue.  Again, James will talk more about this in the coming verses, which we’ll study at a later date.

You see, money can potentially tempt us away from God.

Let me list a few temptations that money may bring our way (I’ve adapted this from the InterVarsity Press commentary on James).

1. We are tempted to allow money to validate our personal worth.

2. We are tempted to allow money to function as our security.

3. We are tempted to allow money to give us the perception that we have gained position or power.

So, for many of us, money tends to become the focus of our lives, because we have these false ideas about what money may do for us.

Now, watch this; look how this passage addresses each of these temptations (again this is from the InterVarsity commentary on James).

1. We are not validated by money.  We are validated by the sacrificial and saving love of Jesus Christ.

2. We are not secured by money, because all that we have will eventually fade away.

3. The position and power that money offers is temporary and incomplete; the prize that we have in Christ is perfect, eternal, and complete!

Allow me to give you a sneak peek into next week’s passage.

Read James 1:12

12 Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

God has promised a prize for us that trumps any power or position that this world can even imagine!  We don’t need to seek our prestige in money!

Allow me to offer some clarifications on money.

In terms of the wealth of the average person in this world, we are probably all rich.

We can all be tempted when it comes to money; not just those who are wealthy.

Money is not evil, but we can allow it to cause us to lose our focus on God and His ways.

If you are only pursuing the things of this world, you and all that you have will eventually fade away.

You see, in the end, both the rich and the poor have nothing to boast about when it comes to this world.  Our only boast should be in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Concluding Thoughts:

If you are a child of God, your true value, your true wealth, is found in Jesus!  If you are poor, be encouraged that God will one day exalt you with true riches in the heavenly realm.  If you are wealthy now, thank God and seek humility knowing that your ultimate value is found in Christ and not in your possessions.

You see, both poverty and riches can drive us away from God and into selfishness.  Let us all purposefully and intentionally seek Jesus!

This brings us to our bottom line for the week:

Bottom Line: Whether you are lowly or wealthy, seek Jesus so that you will be spiritually healthy. [on screen]


Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Ask yourself how you are doing when it comes to humility. [on screen]

This is a hard question to answer because you may not seem humble by answering it.  However, it’s just between you and God, so be honest.

How are you doing on a scale of 1-10?

  1. Identify one way that you can invest in heavenly riches this week [on screen]

Be creative.  Really put some thought into this.

The Fall festival is a great way to invest in heavenly riches.  We need candy and people to serve.

  1. Ask yourself what you will have left when the things of this earth fade away [on screen]


You see, everything that we have, including our physical bodies will one day fade away.  What will you be left with?

When all else fades away, will you have Jesus?

(Gospel Presentation)

(Closing Prayer)


Join us tonight at the South Florida Baptist Association annual meeting. We will meet at Medulla Baptist Church in Lakeland at 6 PM.  If you would like to ride on the church bus, you can meet here at 5 PM.

Also, don’t forget that the Fall Festival is next Sunday at 5 PM.  We need all hands on deck.  We have a great opportunity to love and serve our community as the church of Jesus!  I hope to see you there.

After we finish our worship service today, we have a bit of business to take care of.  We will have a quick special called business meeting for the purpose of electing messengers to the South Florida Baptist Association and Florida Baptist Convention annual meetings.

Let’s sing our doxology and then enter into our quick business session.

(Sing Doxology)


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