Continuing on in James 2 to verse 3, we go from “suppose” of yesterday to “listen” today. “Listen, my dear brothers. 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?” My mind turns to the beatitudes where Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:3) Poverty comes in many forms, not just a lack of wealth. For me, poverty resonates with discouragement, rejection, confusion, conflict with someone I care about, all those times when I feel that my personal resources are not adequate for the challenge of the moment. I look for help from outside of self for I know self is not adequate. A college degree, training, talents are not going to resolve the challenge facing me.
Perhaps the usher seating the rich man in the previous verse is burdened with concerns about the church budget. Perhaps he is concerned about the political persecution early Christians were facing and so alignment with the rich offered a false security of protection James seems to be pointing to the solution for poverty, favoritism, is not a rearrangement of our social resources but a focus on faith. Poverty forces me to focus on resources, seen and unseen. Faith that God is walking with me, working outside my box of solutions, preparing a path, changes my thoughts from poverty to riches.
So perhaps the challenge facing us today is a question of focus. So we need to play a favorite song, spend time in pray, enjoy the beauty of nature, call a friend or journal? Focusing of spiritual bank accounts rather than our limitations reminds us that we are “chosen.” That is special. Blessings.