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James 2:2-4: A Man Wearing A Gold Ring . . . A Poor Man In Shabby Clothing

James 2:2–4
[2] For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, [3] and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” [4] have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (ESV)

There continues to be a plague that infiltrates the Church called the "prosperity Gospel." Yes, I know that sounds harsh calling it a plague. I was actually trying to be gentle. Proponents of this so-called Gospel promote the notion that if you are truly following God you will be rich, healthy, and essentially better than your brothers or sisters who lack the level of faith that you have attained.

This foolish teaching would surely fly in the face of what the Apostle James tells us in this passage. We are not to value the rich and prosperous one in our midst. Rather, the very opposite is true. If we see a person come into our church in shabby clothing and treat them less than our prosperous members we are called judges with evil thoughts! I suspect that James did not attend a megachurch that was filled with the teaching of the prosperity gospel. He must have been lacking in faith. I am being facetious, obviously.

Why do we tend to attach so much value to those who are rich, while ignoring the poor? I believe it is a reflection of our own greedy hearts. We desire material wealth that will fade away. God offers us the riches of knowing Christ Jesus. In our foolishness we choose that which has no eternal value over that which has real and lasting value. It is because our hearts are wrong that we show favoritism. If we were to see things with God's heart we would see that all are made in God's image and are to be loved and respected equally.

If you belong to a church you should carefully evaluate how you treat one another. Are there some who get treated better than others? Does your pastor and/or staff have special seating better than the rest of the congregation? Does the parking lot have a Pastor's Only Parking space a few feet from the church building? Sometimes there are subtle messages of favoritism that need to be addressed.

God does not show favoritism. He offers his grace to people of every race, gender, nation, and financial status. Ask him to help you to love like he loves, with no favoritism.