It Matters Who You Trust
It is a worldly habit to make friends with rich people in the hope that they will meet your needs. Jesus did not do that, because He trusted in Father God to provide for Him. Poor people have a special place in God's heart - not because it is evil to be rich (unless wealth is gained by wrong means), or because poverty is good in itself. But God delights to shower His love on the poor, because they will receive it with gratitude (1 Samuel 2:8).
James speaks bluntly to believers who have slipped back into worldly thinking. They wanted to be friends with the rich and saw any association with the poor as hindering their future opportunities. Had they forgotten that the 'poor in spirit' are best placed to receive the riches of God's kingdom (Matthew 5:3)? Had they forgotten all the abuse that poor people have received from the exploitation of rich landowners or factory managers? Had they forgotten that poor people can rarely afford to have their case represented fairly in court? Had they forgotten that some rich people think that they can abuse poor Christians and get away with it; and do not care that they are slandering God, who made them and loves them? These are the four questions that James asked the churches, where many were poor, to help them to realise that they would be foolish to place their future anywhere else than the hands of God Himself.
The poor know that they cannot help themselves, whereas the rich think that by brains or bullying they can be self-sufficient because they make more money. Such self-confidence has little space for faith to grow. It is hard for the rich to enter God's kingdom (Mark 10:23-25), because they worship themselves and whatever they can get for themselves (2 Timothy 3:2). It is a common temptation to think that money will bring security and freedom from problems. But those who abandon their trust in the Lord, because they desire to have more money, trap themselves and others into a downwards spiral of ruin and destruction (1 Timothy 6:9-10).
The early church needed to wake up (Romans 13:8-12). And so do we! Perhaps we should give thanks for each economic downturn, as we find that the promises of banks and big businesses are hollow, investments and pensions lose their value and security is shattered (1 Thessalonians 5:18). When we stop trusting what we can see, we are able to start trusting the Lord and His promises. His supply of love and grace and mercy never runs dry. This revolution in thinking will bring a new love and harmony to the church. It will also affect the way you do business and treat people: it is great training for His kingdom, and your colleagues and customers will also notice the difference. When they do, you can tell them how Jesus has changed your life.
© Dr Paul Adams