One of my favorite artists is a woman named Joan Steiner who composes “normal” scenes from everyday household items.
Here is one example:
If you zoom in, you see the towers are recorders. The bushes are turnips. The walls are white Hershey’s chocolate. The main building is made from onions. Inductive Bible study is a lot like this. You zoom into the verbs, words, and phrases in a passage to see the Bible really come alive. Let’s zoom into a short passage in James 1:9-11 about money.
9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, The Poor need to glory in the gospel, not their grievances
James writes, “The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position” (James 1:9). James is talking about those who are physically poor and hurting financially. He is talking about those at the last rung of the social ladder. He is talking about those who are indentured servants deeply indebted. But notice, they aren’t just poor; they are also fellow believers because James identifies them as a brother – or a sister – in Christ. What advice does James have for these hurting brothers and sisters?
“The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position” (James 1:9). What high position? You’ve got to be kidding, James! They don’t have a high position. If anything, they can barely sink any lower than they already have. Part of the problem is that they are looked down upon by the world and even those within the church are guilty of doing this. So what is James talking about? The Gospel! The Gospel is the Main Message of the Bible. What “high position” is James talking about? One writer said it this way, “The poorest Christian needs to remember something. He or she needs to remember what they are by grace and through faith. He or she needs to remember what God has done in them and to them and for them. He or she needs to remember they are heirs of the Kingdom (James 2:5). He or she needs to remember the King of kings and the Lord of lords is their brother (Heb 2:11). He or she needs to remember they have been raised with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenly realms (Eph 2:6). He or she needs to remember they will one day judge angels (1 Cor 6:3). He or she needs to remember they are children of God (Jn 1:12; 1 Jn 3:1-2). He or she needs to remember the great reversal that takes place because of the Gospel: the lowly of this world, if they believe, are exalted to the highest position. Heirs of the Kingdom. Jesus as brother. Raised and seated with Christ. Judging angels. Children of God. Wow, what a list! What a high position! The brother and sister in “humble circumstances” should not moan and groan about their poverty. They should not feel sorry for themselves. They should not be a victim mentality. They should not have a “poor me” syndrome. Instead, they should remember their exalted position in Christ.”
The lowest Christian is higher than the highest unbeliever. The lowest Christian is higher than any unbelieving President, Prime Minister, millionaire, billionaire, CEO, movie star, or sports hero. The world may not think so. The church may not act so. But that is what the Bible says.
So our interpretation is this: if you are poor or struggling, remember the riches and crowns you have in Heaven and meditate on that during your trial of poverty.
Glory in the Gospel, Not Our Grievances
Glory in the Gospel, Not Our Goodies
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