James 2:1-10 (NLT)

1My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If 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,” 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

5Listen, 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? 6But 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? 7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

8If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

~

I’d consider myself a conservative. Not Rush Limbaugh crazy conservative, but I generally vote Republican.

I don’t like to think I have a problem helping people. I’ll put my spare change in the Ronald McDonald House box. I’ll donate a dollar at the checkout to put my name on one of those clovers they tape to the store window. Sometimes, I’ll even give a handful of change to one of those guys that stand near the overpass with the signs & ratty clothes.

The thing is, I choose to give my money to those causes (people). When it comes to welfare and other money the government sees fit to take from my pay without my consent, I get a little agitated.

I’ve always been a believer in earning a living. Working for what you have. Earning an honest living. Hard work for an honest days pay.

I’m sure there is a metaphor in this scripture I’m missing. What I gather though is that we should treat the have-nots the same as we treat the haves. I have no problem helping out the people that are truly needy. My problem is the people that abuse the system.

I think people are able to exploit the system our govt. has come up with because the lazy are lumped together with the have-nots. I, personally, get upset because I’m forced to pay out money that I earned to the entire group.

What I get from this scripture though is that maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to judge who needs help and who doesn’t. Maybe I shouldn’t judge at all.

The Bible commands us to pay taxes & follow the laws of our government (Romans 13:1-7). So, after I pay it is it out of my hands? Should I even worry about how the money is being dispersed?

I think I’m getting away from the original idea though. The main idea here in James, I think,  is not to discriminate between the rich & the poor. A vagrant should be as welcome at your table as a CEO. Instead of just dropping a few bucks into a box we should probably be more “hands-on” with those less fortunate. Giving money is good, but sometimes its better to get your hands dirty.

I guess what’s going on here is that we don’t need to judge who is & isn’t needing of help, but we should make ourselves available to anyone regardless of race, religion, economic status, etc.
A church friend of mine posted a verse on her blog from Exodus 23:9. I made the comment that maybe we don’t understand what its like to have it so bad. Maybe we don’t know how to be the foreigners. When you think about it though, most of us are a lot closer to becoming vagrants than we are to becoming CEOs.

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One response

  1. I come at this from a liberal perspective, not crazy moveon.org liberal, just, well, really liberal, liberal. My bias tends to fall against the rich. I have to think James in reverse, and not discriminate against the rich just for being rich. I tend to think anyone with a ton of money (or even really, super comfortable) must not be giving enough away, being stingy with God and with their fellow human beings.

    That’s not right. I need to think, as you do, that I don’t know the hearts and minds of those I see on TV or next to me in traffic. It’s not my place to judge a person’s heart or circumstances, but God’s.

    24 August 2010 at 08:17

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