Monday, December 08, 2014

The consolations of God - James 2:5-7

"Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?" (James 2:5-7)
When we become judges with "evil motives" (James 2:4) we often do so to our own disgrace, and sometimes to our own harm. When we show preference to the rich and powerful, we often end up spending our love and adoration on those who love us not in return; offering ourselves for their dominion and oppression while reaping no benefits for ourselves in return. When we seek the friendship of the world in order to secure a more favorable life for ourselves, we often do so to the disgrace of our own faith; seeking those who despise us and the Holy One who truly loves us. Why is it that we are so quick to lavish our favors on those who favor us not in return? In doing so we become like the nation of Israel who prostituted herself to the nations around her; hoping to secure from them their help, aid, and riches for her time of need, yet in all her pursuing she was left wanting. "Although you dress in scarlet, although you decorate yourself with ornaments of gold, although you enlarge your eyes with paint, in vain you make yourself beautiful. Your lovers despise you; they seek your life." (Jeremiah 4:30)

We err when we value people based on external clues, such as their wealth, position. beauty, eloquence, and perceived knowledge. All such things are external and of no guarantee of the true quality of a person. In fact, God has told us that oftentimes He has chosen those who lack such external merit to shame those who trust on externals only.
"For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God." (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)
A person's value is not found in such external things but rather found on the inside, on the quality of person they are in truth, in their soul, where the real person lives. However, we are so good at judging the outward yet so poor and judging the inward man. We must retrain our senses to see the real person, to view others through spiritual eyes; to come to understand what Paul meant when he said, "Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer." (2 Corinthians 5:16)

God has never promised equality to all. Some will always be rich, some always poor, Some will always be beautiful and some always plain. However, for those who lack external glory, God has provided, as a consolation, internal riches that is of much greater value than anything external. James tells us that, to the poor, God has granted great faith as a consolation. Paul further tells us,
"On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another." (1 Corinthians 12:22-25)
It seems to me that often those who possess an uncommon depth of the grace and favor of God do so in consolation to their lack of outward grace and favor. Those who possess, or should possess, great honor in the Body do so in consolation of the lack of honor that their natural appearance would normally secure. When we discount the poor, weak, and contemptible, we often do so to our own poverty, for such God has endowed with gifts and graces we, and His body, need. Similarly, when we disqualify our own selves because we deem ourselves unfit for holy things, we conceal the good things God has given us by way of consolations; things the Body of Christ and the world are in need of. It is time to cleanse our eyes and learn to see in the spirit; to see the things that are of true spiritual value in ourselves and in those around us.

David Robison

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