Caring for the poor



Daily reading: James 2:1-10
June 18, 2015

Focus scripture: You do well when you really fulfill the royal law found in scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” James 2:8

James speaks out against showing preferential treatment to those who are wealthy.  He is one of our biblical resources that remind us of our obligation of concern for the poor.  Like his big brother Jesus, James hits the topic of money hard in his book.  Did you know that Jesus spoke more about money and possessions than about any other single thing in the scriptures?

In both the Old and New Testament poverty was understood as a breakdown in the equitable distribution of the community’s resources, especially when it came to the widows and the orphans who had no control over how they received their next meal.  Responsibility for action lay in the hands of the wealthy.
According to Micah one cannot be exceedingly rich and fulfill one’s obligation to care for the needy and the poor:  Because your amassing of wealth is causing poverty for someone else. (Mic. 2:2)
Jesus spoke out for the poor and the needy, often pointing out how the religious elite were not fulfilling their obligation to take care of them.  The poor according to Jesus were blessed by God.  
So how does this impact us?  What is James trying to say to us today from this ancient book?  It is more than just being aware of the injustice in our world and how that plays out in a variety of contexts throughout the week.  

How do we show our devotion to God out in the world?  Are we caring for the needy, the orphan and the widow? 

James asks us to look at how we treat those with wealth and then to look at how that informs our priorities.  The challenge I suppose is to look at what we value, whose voices we allow to be heard, what needs we find important enough to attend to and then check in with God to listen to and see how our priorities line up with God’s.  This could possibly be the hardest challenge because “where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”

Prayer:  God help me to deeply understand that what I have has been gifted to me, help me to see how I can use those gifts to benefit my community.  Amen.

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