Paul Kretzmann Commentary - James 1:8 - 1:11

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - James 1:8 - 1:11


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

The need of humility:

v. 8. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

v. 9. Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted;

v. 10. but the rich, in that he is made low; because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.

v. 11. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth; so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.

In connection with the rebuke administered to the doubting heart and the characterization of its instability under the picture of the wave of the sea, the apostle adds the general truth: A double-minded man he is, unreliable in all his ways. His mind is never fully made up: Shall I trust the Lord, or is it not safe to do so? At one time he wants to trust in the Lord with all his heart, at another he places his trust in men. It follows, then, that not only his prayer is a matter of chance, but he is unreliable in everything he turns to; his Christianity is not a dependable fact, but an uncertain quantity, without value.

A further admonition concerns the various stations of Christians in this life: Let the brother of low position exult in his elevation, but the rich in his being lowered, because like the flower of the grass he passes away. These words teach the right attitude toward social standing in its relation to Christianity. If a Christian brother that occupies a low position in life is exalted by being made a partaker of the riches of God in the Gospel, that is a reason for rejoicing, because it shows that there is no respect of persons with God. The rich person, on the other hand, one that is blessed with the possession of many earthly goods and is therefore in danger of placing his trust in such paltry blessings, should feel happy and exult if the teachings of Christianity bring him to the realization of the temporary character of this world and all its goods. For it is only in the measure that he denies himself and all the wealth of this world that he will understand the riches of Christ's blessings. For if he should put his trust in the things of this world, they could serve him at best only for a few years, since he is bound to pass away like the flowers of the grass) short-lived emblems of earthly glory.

This thought is carried out somewhat more fully: For the sun is no sooner risen with the east wind than it parches the grass, and its flower drops off, and the beauty of its appearance is ruined; so also the rich man in his counsels is consumed. See Isa_40:6-8. The east wind, which came up from the Syrian desert, was a hot and dry wind, parching the vegetation on the hills and in the valleys of Judea. With the sun assisting this wind on a day in midsummer, the very foliage of the trees was blighted, the flowers sank to the ground withered and bereft of all the beauty of their appearance. That is also the lot of the rich man, of the person blessed in an unusual degree in this world's goods. Before he is aware of the fact, the hand of death cuts him off from the land of the living and lays him into the grave, where all the riches which he has accumulated will be of no benefit to him. All the more, therefore, is the necessity laid upon him to put his trust in the Lord alone and not in any of his possessions here on earth. Note that the apostle describes this fate, which really strikes all men, as coming upon the rich man only, in order to impress upon the latter the necessity of heeding the warning.