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Remember that God sees things in a different way than people tend to. We need to change the way WE view things.
NOTE: Verse 9 does not have application to the lazy "sluggard," who is dealt with in other passages in Scripture. (See Proverbs 6:6, 9; 10:26; 13:4; 15:19; 19:24; 20:4; 22:13; 24:30; 26:13-16.) Part of the reason these people (in James 1:9) are considered as being in such a high position is because of what is said in the James 4 / 1 Peter 5 passages (seen in the previous section).
James describes those in humble / low circumstances as being in a high position, but the rich as being in a low position. Why? (Other verses in the book of James may also provide reasons why his description is true.)
When you are around the poor / humble, how do you treat them? When you are around the rich, how do you treat them? (James describes how his readers treated those in each category. Read the book and compare their actions to your own!)
How often do you view the "glory" of riches as being temporary and passing away? What type of glory do you pursue? (Based on your answer to this question, what does God say about you? Determine whether or not you need to change your perspective.)
What are your circumstances? How should you evaluate them in the light of what James says? (Note: Paul was sometimes in humble circumstances and sometimes in "high" circumstances. Look at his attitude in Philippians 4:11-13 - examined in greater detail in the section about contentment, below.)
Are there Christians you are too proud to treat as your equal? Do you have an attitude similar to that mentioned at the beginning of James 2?
Are there any expressions of "love toward neighbor" which you do not do, because it involves doing something you consider to be "below your dignity"? (If things do exist, which you are NOT willing to do for others, do you enjoy having others do these same things for YOU? If so, who are you serving / loving?)
Does this passage (or others that may express a similar message) require you to change your attitude or actions? If so, what are some specific things you can start with? (Consider also if there is anyone you have sinned against, to whom you must confess your sin and ask for forgiveness.)
How was Paul an example in having contentment in all circumstances? Look at 1 Corinthians 4:11-13; 2 Corinthians 4:8-11; 11:23-29 to see some of the "less than pleasant" circumstances he was sometimes in. What can you learn from his example, that will influence your attitude toward your own circumstances?
How does the issue of contentment relate to verses such as Romans 8:28 and Philippians 1:6, etc.?
If you have a problem with discontentment, you may benefit from studying what the Bible says about contentment. Think about the verses you look at and how you can apply them to your own circumstances. (Of course, include verses that do not specifically use the word "contentment.")
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Dennis Hinks © 1998