The Bible says a great deal about how we're called to treat others, but there's one theme that is often overlooked: treating individuals — especially when it comes to the disparity between the poor and rich — in an equitable way.
But it's not just about treatment of the wealthy and impoverished. Our culture today — particularly when it comes to celebrities and Hollywood — has a tendency to elevate well-known and wealthy people on a pedestal above everyone else.
Today's devotional podcast has a convicting message about why confronting this reality deeply matters:
Culture in many ways looks up to these people and treats them as though they have more value than others who don't have as much access to wealth, power or attention.
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Another problem, though, is how this dynamic manifests itself in our own personal lives. As many of us seek to live out our goals and aspirations, it's easy to fall into the trap of treating certain people better than others based on what they have to offer us.
Yet scripture clearly calls us to live in a very different way. James 2:1-4 (NIV) very clearly spells out the reality of how we're called to treat others, no matter the status of their social standing:
"My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, 'Here’s a good seat for you,' but say to the poor man, 'You stand there' or 'Sit on the floor by my feet,' have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?"
Unfortunately, though, our culture encourages favoritism, so, if we're not careful, it's easy to find ourselves ignoring these important values and getting ensnared in the same sort of behavior.
Verse 5 goes on to further discuss the matter:
"Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?"
Subsequent verses remind us to love our neighbors as ourselves and not to show favoritism. The text doesn't say: love your wealthy neighbors more, revere your well-connected neighbors more and treat your famous neighbors better; it assigns the same value to all human beings, regardless of social stature.
Jesus, too, spoke about this very issue in Luke 14:12-14 (NIV) when he was having dinner at the home of a prominent Pharisee. Christ reminded those in attendance of the importance of offering love and care to poor people who might have little to offer them:
"Then Jesus said to his host, 'When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
This is a very convicting message in a culture that values fame, wealth and power. So, how are you measuring up?
Whether it's our treatment of the poor — or even our conscious decision not to treat people in our lives who have something to offer us better than those who don't — these powerful verses and truths are worth pondering and putting into action.
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