The rich, as a rule, love their riches. Jesus observed how difficult it is for the rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, Matthew 19.23. As well, many saints, whose eyes are impressed by wealth, give preference to the more well-off in life.
Therefore, it is necessary that we all, as brothers and sisters who love each other without prejudice or conditions, hear again the word of God, which discounts completely the possessions that a person has, for “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” Luke 12.15.
God does not make his choices randomly. He does not choose the poor of this world because he is prejudiced against the rich. He did not decide, before creating the world, that he would save a certain group or a certain class of people. His choice is based upon the response of faith and love on the part of individuals, when the Good News is proclaimed to them. There is no merit in material poverty, besides helping a person, at times, be more receptive to the word of God.
God’s plan also does not have as a goal to make the poor rich or to change one’s life situation. In fact, one principle of the Christian’s conduct is this: “Nevertheless, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each person, so must he live. I give this sort of direction in all the churches” 1 Corinthians 7.17. Paul said this applies everywhere. The writer of Hebrews tells us,
“Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.'” Hebrews 13.5.
There is in the New Testament no promise of material or financial gain to those who follow the Lord Jesus. He does promise the eternal Kingdom, 2 Peter 1.11; eternal life, Jude 21; James 1.12; eternal salvation, Hebrews 5.9; and an eternal inheritance, 1 Peter 1.4.
In his letter, James draws a great contrast between those who see with the eyes of the world and the divine perspective. If we are really God’s children, will we not see things — and people — from his perspective?
“Listen, my dear brothers and sisters! God chose the poor in the world to be rich with faith and to receive the kingdom God promised to those who love him” James 2.5 NCV.
The New Century Version, cited above, translates plainly the writer’s original rhetorical question. In question form, James probably wanted to provoke some thought on the part of his readers and point up the absurdity of showing preference to the rich.
People today have testified that it still happens in our congregations. Elders make decisions that reflect the preferences of the largest givers. The sins of the rich get overlooked. Those with nicer clothes and cars get special treatment. How crazy is that?!
Are there exceptions to Jesus’ rule about the pride of the rich and their difficulty entering his Kingdom? Absolutely! We all probably know some humble rich people of faith. But the rule still holds.
Why then treat them differently? Perhaps our own love for wealth causes us to demonstrate such scandalous conduct and thereby keep ourselves from the eternal Kingdom where true wealth is laid up.
Let us never neglect or forget the little ones who belong to the Lord.