I AM the God who cares for the needy through you. James 2:1-13

According to the indicated website below, 90 percent of the world’s population makes less

Where do you fit in?

Where do you fit in?

than 20,000 US dollars a year, that’s 136 bucks a day.  Half of the world’s population makes less than a couple of dollars a day.  With so much poverty in the world, this passage brings out our infatuation with wealth and the wealthy to the neglect of most people of the world – the poor.  I am not talking just about our responsibility to third world countries.  Why do we elevate the rich so much to the neglect of those who know only hunger on a daily basis in our own cities?  Are we afraid that association with them will damage our image or rub off on us like a disease?  This was definitely not Jesus’ concern as he broke Jewish traditions by dining with sinners and tax collectors on numerous occasions to the chagrin of the religious leaders.  (Picture credit from http://www.givingwhatwecan.org/why-give/how-rich-am-i)

Favoritism Forbidden

2  My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

 Who are you Lord? 

I AM the God who came to save the helpless and poor.  You may ask why I seem to care for the poor over the rich.  All men need me the same, but it is the poor who know they need my help.  I know what it means to go without.  I was born in a stable among the working class, not in a palace.  As I ministered among the people I accepted the fact that “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  I AM the God who helps the needy because they are ready to become people of faith.  “Those who are healthy do not need a doctor.” 

The desire for riches blinds us to others needs

It is the poor who realize they don’t have it all together.  It is the poor who are dependent upon my hand of provision, and it is the poor who are humble enough to accept my grace and mercy.  The beggar Lazarus sat outside of the rich man’s gate in his abject poverty.  When he died he went to paradise, not because he was poor, but because he lived by faith and depended upon my mercy for his very life.  The rich man, whose god was his riches, used them on his own happiness blinding him to his real need in life – me.  His dependence upon his riches bought him a one way ticket to Hades.

When your bank account is running low, remember who your God is for I said “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  But when it is full, remember it is also me who is watching how you spend your money, as to whether you will help those around you who are hurting.  My children in the first church took care of one another so that there wasn’t any need, and I was glorified in the eyes of all who lived in Jerusalem.  Nowadays people deny my existence because of the hypocrisy of my children as they live for themselves and overlook the needs of others around them.  I desire to show my love to the needy through you, but if you only show preference to and associate with the rich and lovely, how can I use you to help the poor of this world? How can you even know who they are if you do not associate with them? “Lift your eyes to the fields for they are ripe to harvest.”   

 Why do we want to blow away like chaff?

Nothing in this world reveals the distinction between faith and self dependence better than our use of our Money.  It can do the work of God through us or it can become our god.  Spending our time and money on those to whom there can be no physical means of repayment shows where our hearts affections truly lie as mentioned in James 1:27 regarding orphans and widows.  We can miss out on ministering to and being ministered by the less fortunate of this world by our propensity to only be with those who are on par or better than our own condition in life.  When the emphasis is on the external things of life, shallowness prevails.  We are to “walk by faith not by sight.”  Those who are poor in this physical world often have a depth of soul that the rich fail to achieve. There are only two things in this world will last for eternity; God and people.  Why do we naturally tend to gravitate to the temporal things of life – wealth and the wealthy, both of which will blow away like chaff?

I love King David’s attitude toward wealth.  He lamented his grand palace while God’s house was just a tent and so gathered his resources to make God’s temple a reality.  Today God’s house is in the hearts of people and there are a lot of dilapidated people out there who need our help to be restored for God’s glory.  Where is our treasure?  Where is our heart?  Love God and you will use your money on what He loves – namely to help people.  Love money and you will use your money to help yourself.

 Humans are the epitome of creation

We as a society / world spend so much time, money and attention preoccupied with the study of the natural world and this universe.  Billions are spent on space exploration missing the point that all of it portrays the glory of God.  Yet when it comes to the treatment of the epitome and crowning glory of God’s creation; that is, our fellow man, nations spend even more money on the research and development of means by which to kill them.  We are the one creation made specifically and individually in God’s likeness and image.   Yes we were given the responsibility to care for this creation, but all the whales and endangered species, all the stars in the universe, and all the gold in this world will burn with unquenchable fire.  Humans who will last for eternity on the other hand are what really matter.  If all the research and development that went into space exploration and defense contracting would be spent to eradicate hunger and poverty, this world would be an amazing place.  However daily, human beings and particularly the poor of this world are dying without the knowledge of their creator because we won’t spend the time or money to help them “I speak this to our shame.” (1 Cor 15:33, 34).

I realize you cannot help all the people of the world, but who can you help?  Who can you share God’s care with?  Let’s lift up our eyes to God’s concerns for the world, and not the world’s concerns for ourselves.

More to come,

Steve

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About strostrud

Missionary with New Tribes Mission since 1989
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