Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Poor and Suffering in Joy

This morning I was reading in my Beth Moore James study about the poor and trials and temptation from James 1:9-12. It says,

"Let the brother in humble circumstances glory in his elevation [as a Christian, called to the true riches and to be an heir of God],
    10And the rich [person ought to glory] in being humbled [by being shown his human frailty], because like the flower of the grass he will pass away.
    11For the sun comes up with a scorching heat and parches the grass; its flower falls off and its beauty fades away. Even so will the rich man wither and die in the midst of his pursuits.
    12Blessed (happy, to be envied) is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive [the victor's] crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him."

I love these verses and how God works because this has been such a predominant topic on my mind lately. I love how "poor" means not only poor in a monetary sense but it also means poor in spirit, as in lacking Christ or the things of Christ that a person who wants to live for Christ needs. That being said, we should through Christ extended our hands to both kinds of "poor" people.

Beth shared a few verses on this topic:

Deuteronomy 15:11-For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.

Proverbs 19:17- Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

Proverbs 31:8-9- Open your mouth for the dumb [those unable to speak for themselves], for the rights of all who are left desolate and defenseless; Open your mouth, judge righteously, and administer justice for the poor and needy.

Switching to a totally different topic, although the topics are linked by their sitting side bye side in James 1. Later Beth encourages the biblestudier to read Hebrews 10:32-34 and verse 34 is what really caught my attention. Its says,

"For you did sympathize and suffer along with those who were imprisoned, and you bore cheerfully the plundering of your belongings and the confiscation of your property, in the knowledge and consciousness that you yourselves had a better and lasting possession."

So the early church suffered all kinds of things, they were imprisoned and all of there early possessions were taken but they didn't suffer in misery and in self obsession but they suffered cheerfully. Really?! 

So I decided to study out the cross references to this verse and this is what I found:

"....and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus." Acts 5:40-42

"Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them..." Acts 16:24-25

"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings , knowing that suffering produces endurance..." Romans 5:3

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds..." James 1:2

Is this not an eye opener seeing all of these verses together. 

Through Christ, the earlier church was truly able to accept their hardships with joy, rejoicing, cheerfully, praying and singing hymns to God and the bible mentions this several times! 

Oh that God would give us/me this spirit. In a world where it's easy to get in a tizzy when your waitress doesn't bring your food out as fast as you want, may we be a people that view trials, hardships, and suffering in the correct light and no matter what comes our way, have a heart that praises God for all He has done in and for us. Even if all we have is our salvation (which is most definitely not the case for anyone I know including myself!) may that be a more than sufficient reason to praise Him with everything we are!

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord! Job 1:21b

1 comment:

Leslie said...

I am leading a study through James as well. What a practical epistle! We are going through Warren Weirsbe's Be Mature.

Yes, it is so important that we "count it all joy" even in the midst of a trial.

I've been doing this a lot lately, but I have to say, it has been such a rewarding time!