“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?” (Jas. 2:5, ESV)
Evidently, the believers James is addressing were enamored with the trappings of wealth. They were giving preference to those adorned with shiny gold and bedecked in fine clothes. Such were given places of honor in the assembly of the saints. Those in tattered garments, however, were directed to demeaning positions, put outside the camp as it were.
James reasons with the believers, making clear the folly of their actions. He brings their attention to two considerations, one the kingdom economy of God and the other the equitability of the kingdom of this world.
God does not show partiality. He sets His love on those He loves (Dt. 7:7-8). The basis for God’s electing love is not with its objects but within the confines of His eternal purpose. That the brothers are “beloved” is a testament to God’s sovereign choice. They are loved not because they are choice, like a top notch cut of meat, but because they are chosen.
To emphasize how counter is God’s kingdom economy, James says it is the “poor” God has chosen to be rich in faith. Not that their poverty qualifies them for the kingdom but that God’s ways are not our ways. We see that exhibited in the grace of Christ, “that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). The kingdom of God belongs to those who are poor (Luke 6:20).
As for the ways of the kingdom of this world, James chides those who elevate the rich. “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, 2:6–7)
“Holy Father, help me to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness.”