Lenten reflection for Sunday, March 10, 2019 – Trials help us experience God’s values

Prepare
What do you see as the primary burdens and benefits of being rich or poor?

Read James 1:9-11
9 Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. 10 And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. 11 The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.

Explore
Wisdom brings the poor a new sense of honor because they learn they matter to God and to the church. Robert Gundry writes: The boasting of a low brother doesn’t connote arrogance. He has no accomplishments that would elevate him to an honorable position in worldly society. So he’s to boast in the sense of expressing pride in having been elevated to an honorable position before God, and this through no merit of his own—rather, by God’s grace.
Robert Gundry. Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2010.

Wisdom brings us rich folks a new sense of humility because we learn that wealth can give us a false sense of security. Much of what James teaches in his letter is echoed by the Apostle Paul when encouraged Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:6-12:
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith.

Apply
On October 28, 1949, the missionary martyr, Jim Elliot, reflected on Luke 9:24 and his conviction that work dedicated to Jesus was more important than his own life, writing: “he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
When you encounter trial and temptations what are you most afraid of losing in terms of wealth, power, and reputation?
How much of the stress in your life is tied to the fear of losing what you cannot keep?

Pray
Ask God to show you the ways that you may be clinging to things that you are bound to lose.
Ask God to fight the good fight of faith, as you pursue righteousness, a godly life, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.

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