- Lesson 4 in the Connect360 unit “The Making of Authentic Faith: Wisdom that Works” focuses on James 2:1-13.
The wisdom of God is foolishness to man. What God prioritizes and uplifts often does not make sense to human wisdom. Human wisdom says to trust and follow the wealthy because they must be doing something right to be wealthy and powerful. Alternatively, according to human wisdom, the poor should not be trusted and should not hold positions of authority.
But in God’s kingdom, things are different. God prioritizes the downtrodden, the poor and the vulnerable. God has chosen the ones the world has deemed unworthy to be rich in faith and to be the ones to inherit his kingdom (2:5).
This closely follows the teaching of Jesus in Luke: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh” (Luke 6:20-21). God has chosen the poor of this world to pour out His love. This does not mean the rich do not also receive God’s love and salvation, but the point is that God’s priorities are different from the world.
Poverty alone does not mean you will be rich in faith, but the experiences of poverty allow for a particular kind of growth that has the potential to lead to rich faith in God. A wealthy person may be tempted toward self-reliance, to trust their wealth for salvation and not God, to think (pridefully) more of themselves than they are. The poor do not have the same temptations. Their life circumstances allow them to put their faith and hope in Christ more readily. They are rich in faith and have much to teach their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
There is division and separation in the world, but before the foot of the cross, all are equal. The church, God’s representative kingdom on earth, should reflect the radical equality of God’s kingdom.
Love is the new standard. To love others as ourselves, we must totally reject any system or belief that allows for preferential treatment of God’s children. The sins of racism, elitism and any other belief that elevates one group above another have no place in the Body of Christ.
As believers follow God’s commands, we must always be aware that all stumble at various times. Believers show mercy because they are keenly aware that they, too, are recipients of God’s mercy. God is pleased when we show mercy. God’s children show love as they freely demonstrate mercy and treat their fellow brothers and sisters as equals.
Compiled by Stan Granberry, marketing coordinator for GC2 Press, formerly known as BaptistWay Press.
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