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“Can you explain what James is talking about when he says the ‘one who is rich should take pride in his low position? ’ ”— Roy
James is the “wisdom literature” of the New Testament, a collection of axioms, encouragement, instruction and warnings. Often the language is euphemistic: pithy and succinct, designed for maximum punch with minimal words. The passage to which you refer takes this form, using unexpected irony to make the point.
James 1:10 is basically an exhortation to humility. In essence, the writer is saying the rich person should “take pride in (find value in) his low position” (his utter dependence on God).” This sentiment is expressed in numerous other texts (Dt. 8:18; I Chr. 29:12-17; Eccl. 5:19). Put in context, the full thought is this: “The poor should take pride in (value) his high position (his undiminished trust in God). The rich should take pride in (value) his low position (humility) because he is not going to be on the earth very long. His life will end soon and his wealth will go to someone else” (James 1:9-10).
James is not alone in warning his readers about the pitfalls of wealth. The rich easily forget God and come to believe that they are the source of their affluence (Dt. 8:11-17; Job 31:24-25, 28; Ps. 52:7; Pr. 11:28; Mt. 19:16-24; I Tim. 6:17) or that their money is somehow more than temporarily theirs (Ps. 39:6; 49:10; Pr. 23:4-5; 27:24; Eccl. 2:18; I Tim. 6:7; James 1:10-11). Self-centeredness, “wanton pleasure” and the ever-present temptation to cheat in order to gain more often accompany increased riches (Pr. 28:18-22; I Tim. 6:9-10; James 5:1-6). Money becomes a spiritual issue when a man is so focused on it that he is in danger of losing his own soul (Mk. 4:19; Lk. 12:13-21).
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