My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?
This is easy to say but hard to do. We are marinated in a culture of status.
This is most obvious in television commercials, where we’re told we must have the right clothing, or the latest phone, or a cool car to be accepted. At least we no longer have to smoke the right cigarette.
This is also why some schools have uniforms—to prevent students from displaying their status through their clothing. This extreme approach counters the brutal way that adolescents often treat each other.
Adults are more restrained than teens, but the sin DNA is still there. We tend to discriminate, though often subconsciously.
So, James commands us to fight this sinful tendency and to give equal treatment to all. To bolster his argument, James points out that the rich tend to be oppressors. Note that “drag you into courts,” is about civil lawsuits. Criminal cases are “dragged into courts” by the authorities.
Frankly, in Biblical times, oppression was normally how people got rich. There was no patent law and no industrialization. The modern ways with which one person can legitimately create great wealth didn’t exist.
Instead, all wealth was generated by hard labor. For people to get rich, they had to garner the wealth produced by the labors of many people. Good management mattered, but only to a limited extent.
And people tend to fight over money, just as they battled for status in their school days.
With adults, this often ends up in court.
Wealth works differently now, but the principle is the same. My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.
James reinforces this view by noting that the poor have a spiritual advantage. Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
Beware, you can miss out on a lot by not paying attention to what the poor have to say.
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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. Saturdays' by Matt Richardson. Subscribe here: https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.