Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. James 1:9-11
There are a lot of ways to alienate business people, but what is the one thing you can do to a business person to make him hate you forever? Publicly embarrass him. Our reputations are everything. When we are humiliated in front of others it can destroy not only our careers but the business as well. This is the stuff of which lawsuits are made.
But it is more than the financial impact that makes embarrassment so horrible for us. Our egos are at stake. The one thing we never wanted to be was made to look foolish. We don’t want to be seen as weak. We don’t want to appear vulnerable. For some, the very prospect of being embarrassed is more than they can handle and they will limit their activity however necessary to avoid the possibility.
Clearly James is taking a contrarian view on this issue. He says rich people, presumably successful, hardworking, creative, rich people, should glory in humiliation. Odd, no?
Except that he explains that it is our natural state. All the ego we possess that requires we never be made to look small is a façade the Enemy has invited us to assume. We have more in common with the grass than we do with majestic mountains or brightly burning stars in the heavens. We appear on this earth for a short time, and our beauty passes quickly in the face of adversity.
Moreover, our Master demonstrated humility to us as a virtue. He surrendered the heavenly attributes of His “Godness” to model how we are to live in this world. He identified with the poor, with the refugee, with the sick, and with the oppressed. And that humility became His ultimate glory.
Treasure your humiliation, my friends, wherever you find it. It puts us in the place we belong, and it puts us in the shadow of the Lord’s glory.