Dishonoring the poor!

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

(Jas 2:5-7)

“Listen!” Just what you want to say to your kids, spouse, and friends sometimes. My wife often comes home from school asking me “Do you hear any sound coming out of my mouth?” “Am I speaking English?” (Apparently, first graders, as well as adults, are prone not to listen.)  He has mentioned the need to listen a couple of times already.  “Listen my beloved brethren, this is something that is needful for you to hear and think about. Be quick to hear this, listen to what I am saying, let it sink in….etc.”

God had chosen the poor….Hallelujah!  I say again, God has chosen the poor. The Good news has gotten better. Now some think that God has chosen us to be rich in this world. No such passage exists!  (correct me if I am wrong!) This verse does say that the poor are rich but rich in faith and more than that, heirs of the kingdom!

Keep in mind that this falls into the context of some in the church shunning the poor in favor of catering to the rich. But that poor man is your brother! How can you do this? James says that in doing this that you have dishonored the poor man.

With what he has just said about widows and orphans, we should not be surprised that he continues with the poor in general. These are likely those who do not need help to feed themselves, they simply do not have much of the world’s wealth. However, they have food and clothing. They can be content.  They can boast! They can boast that they are heirs and rich in faith and that God will keep His promise to them.  They love God and God has promised good things to those who love Him.

“So”, James could say, “This poor man who is heir to the kingdom, loves God, has faith in God, whom God is pleased to honor….you are really going to dishonor him in the name of worldly riches?!!?”  Uh…back away from the rich man and no one gets hurt!

Besides all this, “the rich are the ones who drag you into court.” It is worth thinking about what James means here. Obviously not all rich do this. Nor do I think that a poor man might not. However, if you have to hire a lawyer to go to court, the rich are more able to afford this than the poor. James seems to be saying “why are you putting riches on such a pedestal? Those who possess them often misuse them and you.”

In addition, he talks about blasphemy. Certainly there are passages where Christians were dragged into court and the name of our faith is spoken ill of. Yet, I would like to suggest one other possibility. What if James is talking of rich Christians? Maybe he is thinking of Paul’s admonition in I cor 6 not to sue a brother and to let wise men in the church settle disputes. Could it be that taking your brother to court is considered a blasphemy?  Our faith has a standard has I have mentioned in other posts. Not living up to that standard is to not carry the name of Jesus with the respect and honor he deserves. Yes, I know we all sin from time to time, we do stumble; but no one just accidentally files a lawsuit against a brother.

James is not yet done here. Love is going to play a role in this in the next few verses.

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About Steven Sarff

If I were to offer any one piece of advice to one wishing to serve God, it would be to put Hebrews 11:6 and Acts 17:11 into action and let God guide you to grow in the grace and knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ.

Posted on December 8, 2011, in Christianity, Faith, poor, Rich and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. It is just like Solomon said, “He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given,” Proverbs 19:17. James did also say in 1:27 that true religion is caring for the orphans and widows. We need to take the Lord into consideration as well when it comes to Matt 25: 35-40 when He says:

    for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
    37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

    In the end it really does matter how we treat the poor, middle-class and rich. Most importantly our brothers and sisters in Christ.

    • I like your last sentence: Gal 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

      First to our own and then to the rest is the job of each individual Christian. I think that the reason more Christians don’t help is that they don’t plan to help. Have a purpose/plan and you will get closer to hitting the goal than if you don’t have one.

  2. Reblogged this on Lost Pines church of Christ and commented:

    I will repeat this post which received a lot of views. I don’t know if that made it the most popular but I think it is worth redoing while I am at a conference and writing time is limited.

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