I am not sure who said, “The way up is down …” but it is the thought that James shared with us in James 1:9. “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted.” This seems to go against everything within us. That is because within us is a sinful nature. A sinful nature desires to promote itself. A sinful desire wants the best seat and is willing to knock others out of the way, regardless of whether the action is right or wrong. This is something that each of us will battle every day we are alive.
How is the battle going for you? James wrote one of the most practical books in our Bible. God wanted us to know that the way to be exalted, is really to become humble. We have multiple verses in our Bible that talks about falling because of pride. On top of that, we have stories of people we would consider “heroes of our faith” who were defeated by pride. Here, James says very clearly that if we want o be exalted, we need to be a brother (sister) of low degree.
I do not believe that James is making a statement about our bank accounts. He does address the issue of money in the next few verses, but I believe he is referring more to the attitude that we carry along with our “standing” in our community. If we can remain humble, it will allow God to exalt us. If we exalt ourselves, God has no choice but to humble us, so He can use us. I have known times in my life when I exalted myself too much and have seen God help me by lowing me in ways that only He can do.
As crazy as it sounds, I am thankful for the times God has humbled me, because shortly after I became humbled, I watched God’s blessing come. Today, if you are facing things that are seemingly insurmountable, take heart … God is about to step in (if you are being faithful to Him). When you walk with God and attempt to live godly in such an ungodly world, you will experience being “made low.” Rather than fighting this “demotion,” embrace it, and re-read this verse. As James works his way through this first chapter, he is laying out some deep issues that we all deal with. We all have troubles and are tempted to complain and hold our heads. He encourages us to find joy in them. In this verse today, he challenges us to change our perception as it regards our position in life. It is good for us to realize that God is keeping track of what things, and people, are important. The world will try to encroach on this area of our minds, but God is still in control. Do all you can today to remain humble, so God can use you as He sees fit!