James 2:5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? ESV
Yesterday we saw in our study that the church was beginning to show partiality to the rich versus the poor. No doubt much of this favoritism had to do with such thinking as – ‘What can the rich give to our church?’, and ‘How can having the rich as a part of our congregation make us look better?’ In today’s study we see that God thinks the exact opposite. James tells us that God often favors the poor over the rich. Why does He do this?
Every missionary who has ever visited a third world country comes back in awe of how receptive the people of that country are to the things of God. Not only are the poor eager to receive a copy of God’s Word, they are also open to the gospel message. Statistics show that while the church is declining in America, it is growing very rapidly in many of these third world countries. Why is this? Consider this conversation Jesus had with a young man who was rich.
Luke 18:18 And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”…22… “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” ESV
Can we become a Christian simply by giving all of our possessions away? Of course not. Why then did Jesus say this? Jesus said this because He knew that this young man’s riches were standing in the way of him totally trusting in Christ.
Luke 18:23 But when he (the rich young ruler) heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. 24 Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” ESV
The issue here is not so much – ‘How can a camel possibly go through the eye of a needle?’ as it is – ‘Will a rich person ever humble themselves in order to trust in Christ?’ Why is it so hard for the rich to trust in Christ? Perhaps it is because their riches give them security. Perhaps it is because their riches occupy their attention. Perhaps it is because their riches make them a god unto themselves.
In closing I encourage you to take a moment and read Luke 14:15-24.
Why would the guests who were first invited not come? (vs. 18-20)
Who then did the master invite to replace them? (vs. 21-24)
How should this influence the way we approach evangelism today?