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Gospels of Fulfillment
James and the Poor
What is the significance of the poor to James? Why is it important to respect the poor? Where does James get his teachings about the poor?
The book of James has a great vehemence towards the rich who oppress the poor. In the Biblical Dictionary it talks about the poor as lacking material or spiritual goods and poverty as the state of being poor. When the poor are looked at as a group it is usually understood that being poor is not a personal failure but more because of social factors and injustice. Hebrews tells us that the poor are needy and without power. They become poor because those with more power abuse them. It should be second nature for a Christian to help the poor. In Ps. 12:5 "Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy. I will arise, says the LORD. I will protect them from those who malign them." A better example of this is when God delivered the people from Egypt. Exodus lets us know how the land was to be left fallow every seventh year, this way the poor will be able to gather food. The ideal for the ruler is to be one who fully assumes the responsibility of delivering the poor and crushing their oppressors (Ps. 72:4). In a way, this talks to us in the light of God. God is the ruler and he protects all that follow in his ways. If they are poor then he protects them from those who abuse the poor. In the end he tries to stand by them and lead them to true salvation.
James 1:9-12 tells us that those people who are humble are in a better position to have spiritual advancement. He will cheer for the fact that he is poor. The wealthy is more likely to boast about his life and riches rather then boasting about his spiritual greatness. Those who withstand the temptations of riches and wealth will be more likely to enter the kingdom of God. Also those who have true love for God will receive the same as those who resist the temptations.
James 2:5 "Has not God chosen those whom the world regards as poor to be rich in the faith and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him" The early church was mainly made up of poorer people. When we talk about "poor" that is poor in the eyes of the world. When God looks at you he does not see your outer side. He looks at what you have done in life that will better yourself to enter his kingdom. James says that those people are really not poor instead they have richness in faith. When you have a great belief in faith and are followers of the kingdom that is what really matters to God. What James talks about is based on the future, he believes that those who are rich in their faith and the kingdom will have an eternal life. We have to be careful when we say this, James does not say that all poor people are rich in their faith neither does he say that all rich people are weak in theirs. It seems easier for God to chose the poor. Jesus talks about how it is much harder for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God. It seems that all of what they have on earth stands in the way of them getting to heaven. It is hard for them to leave everything they have on earth to go to a place that they do not know about. This is where their faith is needed. If they had a true richness in faith it would not take them long to make their choice. 1 Cor 1:29 "God selects those who have nothing or are nothing themselves 'so that no one may boast before him'." It is easier for those with nothing to leave behind to make the journey to a better life. They have faith in God that he will give then an eternal life. James talks about how you are suppose to love you neighbor,
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Love, Religious views on love, Wealth, Rich man and Lazarus, Christian views on poverty and wealth
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