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The Evil Results of Favoritism

5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Didn’t God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? 6 Yet you have dishonored the poor. Don’t the rich oppress you and drag you into court? 7 Don’t they blaspheme the good name that was invoked over you? (James 2:5-7)

Continuing on the theme from yesterday on how showing favoritism is wrong, James contrasts God’s exaltation of the poor with the disregard of them by the readers. Looking at verse 5, James asks a simple rhetorical question, addressed again in a close familial way with his readers, “my dear brothers and sisters: Didn’t God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that He has promised to those who love Him?” We can see how God views the poor as blessed in Matthew 5:3, ““Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Many times, those that are poor economically tend to have a richer understanding of God’s blessings and plans, and are more likely than the rich to be prospects for salvation. Now, this doesn’t mean that all poor people are immediately converted nor does it mean that God is biased against those who are not poor. Just stating that it tends to be easier to see how God is working when there are less distractions, such as material possessions.

Unfortunately, James’ readers at the time did not see the poor as God sees them: “Yet you have dishonored the poor.” As we saw yesterday, there may have been some believers that had their poor guests sit on the floor or stand during their times of worship, while they gave the best seats to the rich, all based off of appearances. The believers at the time were thinking they could receive special treatment from the rich, yet it did not gain them any favors: “Don’t the rich oppress you and drag you into court?” Later in James 5:4, we will see that the rich during his day were not paying their workers on time. Yet, the believers thought they could help their own self interests by giving special treatment to the rich, but it didn’t pan out they way they wanted, even being dragged into court. Beyond the physical treatment, the rich that the believers were trying to “butter up” were blaspheming Jesus Christ, “Don’t they blaspheme the good Name that was invoked over you?”

This passage is a good warning to avoid the temptation of giving special treatment to others for your own pursuits and self-interest. Instead, may we seek God’s will first and foremost, and accomplish His purposes. We should treat everyone as God treats everyone, seeing them all made in His image and in need of redemption. If you are a believer, you should do this humbly, not having a “holier than thou” mentality, but rather, a heart full of thanksgiving for the grace and mercy that God has given to a sinner. That same love shown upon us should be shown to the world equally.

Blessings,

Isaac De Guzman

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