Empty Handed but not Empty Hearted
James 2:5-7 says “ 5Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 6But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgement seats? 7Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
This is a continuation from yesterday’s lesson ‘Pruning Partiality’. in James 2:1-4 we saw the problem that many people suffer with; respect of persons. We saw that faith and respect of persons cannot coexist, we saw that if we have a double standard about people then we are partial in ourselves and we saw that this partiality is nothing less than judgement of evil thoughts. Today’s lesson carries on the thought of the rich and poor.
The opening phrase of verse 5 is “Hearken, my beloved brethren”. James is just saying ‘guys, listen to what I’m saying!’ from this we can gather that there is obviously an important lesson coming. The verse continues “Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” The first phrase we notice is “Hath God not chosen the poor” it is important to see that while men choose and exalt the rich of this world; God chooses and exalts the poor of this world. Man and God have two different ideas about true wealth. It is a beautiful picture that the poor of this world are rich beyond measure. Now you may be asking ‘how can the poor be rich?’ Well…
Firstly we see they are rich in faith. Often for someone who is poor, faith in the Lord that He will provide is a big thing. Generally someone who is rich in money will be poor in faith. They will rely on their money to see them through; but they forgot who gave them money in the first place! People soon forget that the money God gives them if used wrong can just as easily be taken away. Those who have nothing rely on God for everything. It is this trusting which makes them rich in faith.
The second thing we see is that the poor are “heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him” we can see two things from this point. The first is that the poor are heirs of the kingdom. Not only are they rich in faith, they are royalty! The second thing we see is that the poor are heirs to the kingdom because they love God. While the rich love their money and their possessions the poor love God. For man to love the world and its possessions is to hate God. The rich man fears death because of what he loses; the poor man rejoices in death because of what he gains. It is impossible for a man to follow after money and follow after God. I’m not saying that having nice things is wrong; I’m saying that it’s our attitude towards them. It’s when we put things higher than God that problems occur. Rich men idolise money. They place it above God and God does not tolerate that. It’s not a sin to have money; it only becomes a sin when it is used for the wrong reasons or in the wrong way.
The start of verse 6 shows us the attitude James’ audience had: “But ye have despised the poor.” we see simply that the people hated the poor. Their vision of the world had been completely distorted by money. They respected these men who had lots of money but more than likely no faith while they despised the men who had nothing except strong faith. James’ brethren who he was writing too had an eye for wealth, not for God. They wanted the big buildings and fancy pulpits instead of the members of strong faith. A church is not a building. A church is the people. If the people are superficial and don’t care about God then their ‘church’ will go nowhere; but if the people are poor and lowly and rely on God for everything then this church will be strong. The verse continues “Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgement seats?” this is a real kicker! James says these same men who you respect and give the best seats to in your assembly, are they not the same men who oppress you and who bring you to judgment? Talk about irony!
Verse 7 puts the final nail in the coffin. It says “Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?” James carries on to say that these rich men that you respect so much and offer them the best seats in your assembly, are they not the ones who oppress you and judge you, are they not the ones who blaspheme the very name by which you are called. Are these men not the hypocrites who bless God in church and curse Him outside of it? Are these men not the same men who put the same money in the collection that they put into bribery? Are these men not the same men who make money their idol? James brings them to the realisation that the same men they respect are the same men who will sell them out. They have been putting their trust and respect into the world instead of into God; and because of this their vision of what’s really important has strayed far away. Money put a blindfold on the believers. As they walked along they could not see where they were going or who they were following. When the word of God finally removed the blindfold they looked around and didn’t recognise where they were. They were so far from the truth, so far from what was important that they had lost sight of it altogether.
Realise today that the rich men you may choose to be in your assembly may not be the men God has chosen. Don’t look to a man’s worldly wealth, look to his spiritual welfare. No one can buy their way into heaven. They can’t invest in some scheme to fast track them to being heirs of the kingdom. However, there is something YOU can do. You can invest your time into the spreading of the gospel. You can make poor men rich in faith. Don’t be a respecter of persons; it won’t do you any good. Be a respecter of God and follow his plans for your life. Follow after God, not money. You can only have one master in your life, who’s yours? – Andrew
Posted on September 17, 2012, in Andrew's Thoughts for the Day and tagged Bible, Christianity, Faith, James, Jesus, Lord, Oppression, Religion and Spirituality, Sin. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.