James 2:5 Hearken, 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?
6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
The Bible is not a complicated book to follow. The key is to be saved. Those who are saved have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside them. He is the one who opens the mind and heart to understand and to receive the truth. As we see in the book of James, the problem is that those who are saved do not always walk in the Spirit. The “old man”, or the “old nature”, is still there and will be until we die. There is no such thing as sinless perfection on this earth. Those who teach that are false teachers and those who believe that are deceived.
Having said that, I understand that Paul wrote that there are things in the Bible which are difficult to understand. I have found that in my study of God’s Word as well. However, the general text of the Bible is not complicated.
In James 2, God was directing James to deal with a problem, a sin, that saints can be guilty of. We can be partial in the wrong ways. Biblical separation is a clear Bible doctrine. Biblical separation is based on spiritual matters, not physical matters. Physical matters may reveal the spiritual nature of the individual, but the issue is a spiritual one.
The illustration that God gave James in this chapter is one of material status. Riches or lack of riches does not determine the spiritual nature of the person in and of itself. I read yesterday that most car dealerships are now adding between $2,500.00 and $5,000.00 to the price of a new vehicle because they can. They are calling this new fee a “market adjustment”. A more honest name for it would be “greed”. Apparently there are not enough new cars on the market right now for the demand, and so the dealerships can get away with being extra greedy. Some people are smart enough to say ‘no, I will not pay that’. The dealers don’t care about those people. They have enough other customers who will pay the extra fee.
I give that illustration to show that riches can be gained in a fraudulent manner. James is not talking about that. He is simply talking about the danger of looking at the rich person with greater appreciation than the person who is poor. That cannot stand in a true church.
In verse 5 we see that God sees the heart. He knows that often times, it is the poor person who is richer in faith. The poor person that is saved, tends to be more dependent upon the Lord than the rich person.
As I look at the world today, I see that depending on financial status is a very shaky thing. The government has shown us that they can freeze accounts for any reason they choose in an instant. If they do so, the consumer is the one who has to figure out a way to get things back to where they were. If we look at the agenda of the WEF, they want all people to be poor by 2030. We will have to wait and see if God allows them to get to that place by that time.
Christians need to look at life differently than lost people do. Christians need to ask God to help them to see the heart of the individual. We will see this as we spend time with the brother or sister and as we work together with them in the local church.
We need the local church. We need that personal fellowship that allows us to get to know one another and to develop those Biblical friendships that are beneficial for all. Those friendships are not dependent on wealth. They are dependent on a humble walk with God.
We see in verse 5 that the key is to love God. Those who love God are those who are saved. They have a desire to know their God and Saviour better and they join in that effort with others who also love God. That is the unity that Paul wrote about in Philippians 2.
In verse 6 God shows us again the sin of partiality based on material things. James pointed out that the brethren had despised the poor. Not a good place to be. He further pointed out that the rich are more likely to oppress others. They tend to be more arrogant and they tend to think they are superior to others. They will be much quicker to take a person to court than the poor saint will be.
James is not speaking in the flesh. God is directing him in his writing. God is not painting all rich people with the same brush. However, God knows us better than we know ourselves. He is warning us here of the danger that is present in a local church. This is no reason to avoid a true local church. This is reason to pray for one another in the local church and to walk humbly with the Lord so that we do not allow the world to get into the local church. James will be directed to speak directly to this as well.
Paul reminds us that it is foolish for Christians to take other Christians to court. We bring shame to the cause of Christ when we do that. Christians should be able to resolve disputes through the local church. Paul also states that it is better to be defrauded in this world, than to take a brother to court and bring shame to the cause of Christ.
James speaks in similar terms in verse 7. God directed him to use some very strong words here. When we disregard God’s law, we blaspheme His holy name. God has called each saint to Himself. We need to have respect to His call upon us and we need to forsake the old ways of the world.
In verse 8 we see that the law is there to guide us. James is writing to brethren. The law does not save. The law cannot save. However, the law is there to show us what God expects from those who are saved.
It is required by God, that saints love their neighbour as themselves. James tells us that doing this is commendable. This can only be accomplished when a person is saved and then humbly submits to the truth.
Verse 9 begins with that little and powerful word “but”. If we have respect to a person’s status, we sin. We are then convinced of the law as transgressors. We see again that it is not that difficult to discern what is going on in a person’s heart. A saint that despises the poor does not love his neighbour as himself. He is in sin. In the context of this passage the “neighbour” is a fellow brother. Brethren need to have that genuine love for one another.
I John 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
We demonstrate who we truly are by our actions, not just with our words. The world needs to see the love of God at work in the lives of the saints. In I Corinthians 16, the apostle Paul was involved in taking up a collection from the various churches to help the poor saints in Jerusalem. As the saints looked after the needs of other saints, they could show the lost one of the many blessings they missed out on in not knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.