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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
Preached At:Mission Smithers -- Fort Babine
 Fort Babine, British Columbia
Title:See yourself as God sees you!
Type:Mission Sermon
Text:James 1:9-11 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Life in Christ

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation,

Tonight I would like to begin a series of sermons on the book of James. On New Years Eve, I preached to you from the fourth chapter of James. But now I'd like to go back to the beginning, to chapter 1.

This letter was written by the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ. After Mary gave birth to the Lord Jesus, she had other children as well, and one of those children was James. He became a leader in the church. He wrote this letter to Christians who were living in many different places. The letter starts by speaking about being tried and tested. God uses these tests and trials to make us grow. In fact, God wants us to become perfect, mature and complete. That's why it says in verse 4, "Perseverance (sticking it out) must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." God wants us to become perfect and that's why he sends tests and trials into our lives. These things are meant to shape us and make us grow.

Our text tonight talks about two different kinds of tests. One of these tests is being poor. The other is being rich. When you don't have enough money or you have lots of money, either way you can be led closer to God or away from God. But God wants us to come closer to Him. He wants us to have wisdom whether we are rich or poor, so that we can become mature and complete, perfect. How do we do that? By seeing ourselves as God does. That's our theme for tonight's sermon:

See yourself as God sees you!

1. He sees all of us in Jesus Christ.

2. He sees the poor in a high place.

3. He sees the rich in a low place.

1. He sees all of us in Jesus Christ.

If you read it carefully, one of the strange things about the book of James is that He only mentions the name of Christ a few times. But Jesus Christ is definitely here in this letter. I already mentioned that this letter talks about wisdom. You can see that in verse 5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God..." Getting wisdom is very important for a Christian to be mature and complete. So, how do we get wisdom? Well, the Bible is very clear that wisdom starts with faith in God. On New Years Eve, I mentioned Psalm 111:10, but the saying is also found in Proverbs 9:10, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom." We need to begin with believing in God. And, of course, that also means believing in Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:30 says that God made Jesus Christ our wisdom. So, if we want to be wise, we have to hold on the Lord Jesus.

This is so very important. It's important also because of what the Saviour teaches us in Matthew 5:48, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." But we all know the saying: no one's perfect. And that saying is true. The Bible tells us over and over again that we are sinners. If I ask you if you have sinned today and you tell me "no," then you are either lying or you are mistaken. You have sinned today. So have I. We cannot be perfect. Then, how can we listen to what Christ told us to do? We can only be perfect in Jesus Christ. When we believe in Him, then God looks at us differently. He looks at us as people who have no more sins. He looks at us as people who are perfect. And then that's also how we have to look at ourselves.

Believing in Jesus Christ, we can have wisdom, and so we can also be perfect in God's eyes. We can be "mature and complete" when God looks at us. We still have sins, but we can know that we have peace with God. And then we have to live like those who have peace with God, too. We have to try to have peace in our relationships with one another. Husbands and wives have to work to have peace and love one another. People in the community have to stop gossiping about each other and calling each other down. And it all begins with you personally. It's easy enough to listen to a sermon and think about other people and how much they need to hear it. But we need to start with our own lives. If you have peace with God through Jesus Christ, then God is calling you (each of you personally) to work at having peace with those around you. For Jesus Christ is the Saviour of your whole life, not just your soul. He saves or redeems everything, including your relationships. That is what it means for you to see yourself as God sees you, for you to see yourself as God sees you in Jesus Christ. When we do that, then we can also deal with the money situation in our lives, whether poor or rich. That's what we'll start looking at with our second point tonight:

2. He sees the poor in a high place.

When James wrote this letter to the Christians in different places, he knew that some of them had it hard. They didn't have a lot of money. They didn't have nice houses. They could hardly put food on their tables. Life was tough for them, as it is for some of you. Being poor can be a kind of test. When you are poor, you are tempted to feel sorry for yourself. You might look at other people and you become jealous because they have more than you do. You might start to complain and grumble. You might wish that your life was different. If only you had more money, then you would be happy. As if having money is all there is to being happy.

This way of thinking is what led the Holy Spirit to give us verse 9, "The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride (better: glory) in his high position." In other words, the brother, the Christian who is poor has a high position that he can be happy about. If you are poor, you have to see yourself as God sees you. You have a high position. You have been adopted by God to be a prince in God's kingdom. You are a part of God's people. When you suffer because you're poor, you have to find comfort in knowing that God has lifted you up in Jesus Christ. When you know this, then you can pass the test. When you are tempted to think wrong thoughts, you can think the right thoughts and do the right thing. God sees you in a high place and you have to see yourself the same way!

That also means that you have to look only to God when you are poor. Verse 8 tells us that a man who doesn't trust in God is a double-minded man, "unstable in all he does." God doesn't want His people to have two minds. He wants you to only trust in Him - that's part of what being perfect, mature and complete is all about. So, when you are poor, you might be tempted to trust in ways to get rich quick. Maybe gambling and lottery. Or maybe you might be tempted to rip people off and cheat them. When you do that, you are showing that you trust in other things besides God. You are double-minded. "That man should not think that he will receive anything from the Lord," says verse 7. God is a jealous God - He wants us to serve and trust Him and Him alone. So, when things are bad for you, pray to God and trust Him to provide for you in His way, the right way.

But temptations are there, not only when you're poor, but also when you're rich. That's our last point tonight:

3. He sees the rich in a low place.

Just like today, in the time when James wrote this letter there were both poor and rich people who were Christians. James also wants to write to the rich people about the temptations or the tests that they face. The rich people also have to see themselves as God sees them. For them, they are faced with the temptation of seeing themselves as important in God's eyes because of all the money they have. They are tempted to trust in all their money and the power they have. The Lord Jesus says very clearly in Matthew 19:23, "it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." He didn't say that it was impossible, but that it is hard. Why? Because rich people want to hold on to all the things that they have. They think that all their stuff and all their money will make them happy.

But James says in our Bible text for tonight that the rich will pass away like a wild flower. A few months ago, you could look all around Babine and see the fireweeds and the other flowers. But where are they now? They've all disappeared, just like flowers disappear in the place where James was writing (although there it's because of the heat and not the cold). Those people who are rich have to see that all the things they have are going to disappear, just like those flowers. They are going to disappear, they are going to die. So, if they believe in the Lord Jesus, they have to see themselves in Him if they are to be anything. Jesus Christ was not a rich man, He was poor His whole life. He is the King of the Universe, but He came into this world in a low place, born in a barn. He suffered and died on a cross, a big shame. So, the rich people have to look to Jesus, if they are to face their tests. If they are going to be wise, so that they can be perfect and complete, rich people have to see themselves as God sees them in Jesus Christ. They have to think about themselves in the right way.

It's very helpful for us to look at this Bible passage. That's because it talks about one thing that causes so much trouble in our lives: money. In 1 Timothy 6:10, Paul writes, "For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." So, it's not really the money that is the problem: the problem is our love of money, the problem is in our hearts. That's why we need the Lord Jesus and His Holy Spirit. When we trust in Him, when we believe His Word to us, we can be wise and face this problem. Whether we are rich or poor, when we have Jesus Christ we have the One person we truly need! The One person who can give us the real comfort and happiness that no amount of money can give. AMEN.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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