James 2:5-7 NKJV
Matthew 19:23-24 NKJV
Matthew 25:23 NKJV
Matthew 25:14-28 (entire Parable)
When I was young, especially in junior high school my dad used to tell me things that seemed really strange to me. One of the verses he talked about was this verse.
In James 2:5 it says,“Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”
He told me the poor were rich in the ways of God. He explained that it made sense because the poor would pray for their every need.
They relied on God.
Because had nowhere else to go, they turned to God.
They didn’t have “stuff” or provision for tomorrow, when they turned to God, He took care of their every need.
My dad also told me not to seek money. He told me if I seek money, all I will have is money. But if I seek God I will have everything.
One day he took out a dollar bill. I was sitting down and he told me to close my eyes. He put the dollar bill across my eyes and pulled the money close to my face. Then he told me to open my eyes. When I opened my eyes all I could see was the dollar bill.
He asked me what I could see and I told him I couldn’t see anything except the money.
He said if I hold money close to me, that is all I will see and all I will have because It will be so close to me I won’t think of anything else.
He asked me if that was what I wanted. I said no. Then he asked me what I do want. I told him I want to know God and rely on God. Then he said, “Then pray for that. Pray to have more of God and let God take care of your needs.
He didn’t talk about the rest of the scripture in today’s lesson in James. In James 2:6-7 it says,
“But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?”
I thought about why James said “you have dishonored the poor man?” Many of the people who looked at the poor man saw a man who had nothing. They didn’t look at his heart that was full of God. They missed seeing the fullness of the man.
James also reminded his readers that the wealthy have resources, and if they choose to do so they can say things about another man to make him look bad. James is saying don’t assume the poor man isn’t rich on the inside because his heart is filled with the love of God. And, don’t assume the rich man is honest and caring. Do not assume because he is rich he has been blessed by God. Just because the rich man has coins in his pocket, he may not have a heart for God and he can be dishonorable.
In our culture today (as was also the case in the 1st Century) the wealthy are considered to be blessed while the poor are not blessed, so in a way they are dishonored. We seldom look at a poor man and think how fortunate he is, but the truth is if he has chosen to trust God and seek God, he IS chosen.
The same is true of a wealthy man. If a wealthy man knows his wealth is fleeting, and he turns to God then he is not despised by God. That’s because when the man turns to God and asks God to show him how he should use his wealth, he will be blessed.
It’s up to both men to decide who he will trust. In Matthew 19:23-24, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Note: The eye of a needle is the narrow doorway into the city, and it WAS difficult to get a camel through that narrow doorway).
The rich man had a responsibility to share his wealth with others. The poor man turned to God and he shared the love of God with others.
Jesus taught ‘The Parable of the Talents’ in Matthew 25:14-28 and in each case the person had a choice. The man who invested his coins (his talents) doubled what he had.
In Matthew 25:23 Jesus said, “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ “
The man who buried his one coin (talent) in the ground still only had one coin and he did not receive the blessing.
So, take the example of the coins and consider them to be the gift of talents. Jesus was saying if we are given a gift (or a talent) and we use it, our talent will grow. But if we are given a talent and we bury it and do not use it, it will not grow.
Really, it comes down to sharing what God has given us. The man who was blessed shared his talent. The man who was not blessed sat down in his chair and did not share his talent, so he didn’t learn anything and he didn’t grow.
Do you see the thread of truth? It’s in the sharing. The wealthy man was expected to share his coins. The poor man who had turned to God shared the love of God with others.
Both had been given something to share.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Share
Whatever you have been given, share it with someone. If you have an abundance of coins, share one. If you have a heart full of God, share it with someone.
In God, Deborah