James 2:3-4: “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,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”
Chapter two starts by condemning snobbery. Looking down on people is completely unacceptable. As followers of Christ, we are to lift people. In these verses, two different people walk into a gathering of Christ-ones. One has the appearance of being rich and is escorted to the best seat in the house. The other is poor and given a place in the nosebleeds or by the feet, either way, the view (and smell) is terrible. James makes it clear that this is discrimination with evil intent.
And that’s the key. We do treat people differently; there is no getting around that. But why? Do we treat people differently because our motivations are wrong? If so, that is evil. Notice that James doesn’t condemn the rich or poor, but the usher. The usher’s attitude is awful.
Why did James, and his half-brother Jesus, care so much about the poor? Because they were poor.
2 Corinthians 8:9: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
Jesus was born to a poor mom and dad in a borrowed stable. Jesus’ birth is revealed to poor shepherds. To complete one of his most popular miracles, Jesus had to borrow fish and bread from a kid. When Jesus was teaching a crowd by a lake, he had to borrow a boat to teach from. When Jesus was asked about taxes, he had to borrow a coin to illustrate a point. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem triumphantly, he did so on a borrowed donkey. To celebrate the Passover and Last Supper with his disciples, Jesus borrowed a room. Jesus was crucified on a borrowed cross-It was intended for Barabbas). Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb (from Joseph of Arimathea).
Jesus was that guy that was always borrowing things! However, he did so for our benefit, not his. As God, everything was His anyway.
We need to be careful when we interact with people not to show preferential treatment based upon the economics of the world.
Some questions to consider:
-In what ways are you discriminating against the poor? The rich?
-How do you need to check your attitude?
Photo by Allec Gomes on Unsplash