“Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:” (James 2:7–8, AV)
Today, the media and many with a political agenda, have denigrated the rich in our country. They say that rich people are the problem. Even many of our politicians in congress, who are mostly all people with a net worth of over a million dollars and making large amounts of money, jump on this band wagon. So, I need to make a disclaimer prior to addressing James’ words here. Wealth or poverty does not make a person evil or good. First of all, only God is good and our determination of good and evil as it relates to the rich and poor is based upon our relativistic judgments.
I have known several very wealthy Christian businessmen who we would characterize as being very good people. They do not flaunt their wealth. They are very benevolent and generous. I have seen these men help others. They have not used exploitation to build their wealth and they are using their wealth for the glory of God.
Wealth in and of itself is not evil. However, it can and often does corrupt certain people, when they are driven by a love for money and possessions. It is for this reason that Jesus stated it was difficult for a rich man to enter heaven (Matt 19:23). The difference is this. When money becomes an idol to people, you can expect that they will serve money rather than God. In fact, these types of people serve self with money being the main motivator. With these types of people, you often see personal gratification at the expense of others. This has been prevalent throughout history. This is the example that James gives to his Jewish Christian readers to explain why they should not kowtow to the wealthy at the expense of paying attention to the poor.
It is true that there were wealthy people in biblical days that exploited the poor just as there are today. Perhaps it was even more prevalent in those days than today. These types of fleshly driven people do not display true faith. Churches shall not kowtow to the rich, but must minister in love to all. To the rich, churches are to exhort them to have a proper perspective on wealth in the kingdom. While this is a huge subject, these concise words given to Timothy tell us much.
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Timothy 6:17–19, AV)
If you are considered wealthy today, remember these words. If you are poor, do not despise the rich. Remember that God is sovereign over all and that by faith, He has chosen the poor to be rich in the kingdom. Moreover, He has chosen the rich to be a blessing to others.