James 1:9-When God’s View of Justice Doesn’t Fit with Mine

IMG_0393James 1:9   Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation,

Unfortunately for Believers, we live in a broken world, this means among other things that life sometimes isn’t fair. In fact Christians who are truly committed to Christ will face persecution or injustice because of their beliefs on a regular basis.

James in 1:9 gives an encouraging word to those brothers who have experienced persecution (brought low) by promising an exaltation (raising) would come from God. In fact James goes a step farther telling them to boast (have confidence in persecution) because God would raise them up.

In other words James is telling them not to worry because God would bring Justice.

I’m sure this verse was incredibly encouraging to these Believers and helped them rejoice in suffering (James 1:2) while allowing suffering to make them stronger (James 1:3–4) and exhibit faith in God (James 1:5–6). But it reminds me of a very important truth.

My definition of justice is going to be very different from God’s definition.

My definition of justice usually goes something like this:

  1. God’s going to remove all of my suffering right away
  2. Give me everything that I want (make me rich)
  3. And give blessing in a way that focuses the eyes of everyone on me

God’s view of justice looks like this:

  1. Injustice will be used to convict of sin, and continue the work of Sanctification
  2. God will give me exactly what I need to survive my suffering
  3. The final justice (removal of suffering) won’t take place till I live for eternity in Heaven

My point is this promise doesn’t mean God’s going to make you rich. instead it looks towards the future blessing in Heaven.

The word that James uses for “exaltated” in this verse (Greek Word hupsos) has two different meanings.

  1. The figurative meaning is “elevation or dignity”
  2. The abstract meaning is skies or altitude

Dignity here gives the idea of encouraging someone instead of pouring out every blessing they could possibly want. This is backed up because James 1:9 says the rich should glory in their humbling experience [1].

God’s judgment on the unsaved (rich) in James 1:9–10 does highlight the fact that God’s justice is focused on eternity (what happens after death) instead of this world [2].

So God’s justice doesn’t fit with my view of what justice should look like [3] but instead encourages me to boast in my “future justice” after death.

At first this seems unfair till we really think about it…

What is one lifetime of suffering (let’s say 90 years) compared with eternity in the presence of God.

In a place that has no brokenness (suffering, pain, death, injustice)

Where every day will be filled with worship or my Savior Jesus

The truth is my definition of justice is very “self-centered” and definitely shallow. For a moment of glory on the earth is nothing compared with millions and millions of years in perfection.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t cry out to God for justice. But we need to remember the true deliverance won’t come until we are with Him in Glory.


 

[1]: being brought low or discouraged

[2]: Notice that after the first phrase in 1:9, the rest of God’s judgment deals with death of the unsaved, and their losing all of their blessings for eternity.

[3]: judgment of others in spectacular fashion and massive blessings on me

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