Don’t show favoritism

Because it is contrary to the will of God!  James 2:5-7: “Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?  But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear?”

God is “no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34-35). National and social differences are not important to Him.  “Chosen” is used in the common New Testament sense of referring to those who had responded to God’s invitation. God “chose” the poor because it was usually the poor who came to the Lord and did His will. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:26 – “Not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” It was said concerning Jesus, “The common people heard Him gladly” (Mark 12:37).

This does not mean that God went to the opposite extreme and gave preferential treatment to the poor over the rich. It reflects the fact that the common people (poor) were more responsive to the gospel. The poor generally do not feel very self-sufficient; they usually feel the need for some help, physically and spiritually.  The rich usually do not feel a need for God or for much help.  Whatever the listed reason, it was the poor who were usually the most responsive to the gospel.

The church in James 2 had despised or dishonored the poor man by making him stand while they gave the rich man the choice seat. It is possible that they embraced the common philosophy that riches were a proof within themselves of God’s approval in a special way. But this is not true, says James. It is the poor, who had responded to God’s call, who were God’s special ones. They might be poor in this world’s goods, but they were “rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom.”

James continues, by saying that your practice of preferring the rich over the poor makes no sense at all—for you are honoring the very ones who make your life the most miserable. The influential, powerful, and wealthy Jewish leaders were imposing their will on others in Jerusalem and in other places. They used their influence in the corrupt courts of the day where the poor man didn’t stand a chance.

However, it is also wrong to go to the opposite extreme and show preferential treatment to the poor over the rich. Today some think that it is all right to “soak the rich” (they can afford it). We must have a Christian attitude toward the rich too.

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