But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? (ESV)
There is something to be said about how we treat the poorest among us. If we give honor to the rich while ignoring the poor James says that we are dishonoring the poor man. In this particular passage the dishonor was something as simple as having the poor person sit in a seat that was less desirable in the place where they had a church gathering.
A great question for the people who James was writing to would have been, "Where would you have Jesus sit in your midst?" Consider what Jesus said in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats. Jesus said, "And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40).
If you view someone as being the least treat them with greater honor. Do not dishonor the poor. If we consider what Jesus said we can easily surmise that dishonoring the poor is no different than dishonoring Jesus himself. I am afraid that Jesus walked into many of our churches he would not be greeted with much honor, very similar to the first time he came.
James says that the rich, who were getting preferential treatment, were the very ones who were oppressing the Christians and dragging them into court. Clearly, the decision making of these believers James was addressing was not very sound. The reality is, we should treat all people with love and honor, as if we were meeting Christ himself.
Ask yourself how you think you would treat Jesus if he were to walk into your church? How would the greeters treat him? The deacons? Would he be honored? Or ignored?
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