"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?" NIV translation
James reminds us (with a question) that God uses the lowly and the poor (in the eyes of the world) and in fact that they are chosen to inherit the kingdom. If we look back at the family tree of Jesus (see Matthew 1:1 - 17), we will see that God chose these "poor" people to be a part of bringing Jesus into the world. There are murderers, adulterers, prostitutes, lowly shepherds and those without money on that list. We may ask ourselves why God uses this type of people and the answer is very simple. When God uses the "lowly and poor" to do great things it is obvious that it is only by God's power that the things are being done and not of the power of the humans. This brings greater glory to God and also helps us to see that God can use each and every one of us for His kingdom. Do you know of someone that is considered "lowly and poor" by the standards of this world yet God is using them? You can share the story with us and help us to build up the church.
"But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?" NIV translation
Many of us will be quick to read this and point the finger at "the rich" but we should first remember that, since you are reading this study on a computer, you probably are one of "the rich". Then, we must look at ourselves and ask ourselves the questions in this passage. You may ask: "How have I slandered the name of the Lord?"
The simple fact is that by not remembering that all men are created in God's image (see Genesis 1:27) and respecting them/showing them love we do not present a true picture of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is slander to His name. Showing them love involves sharing with them and helping to meet their needs; that is what Jesus told us to do.
"If you really keep the royal law found in scripture, 'Love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers." NIV translation
Here, James reminds us of the commandment to love others as yourself. This was originally given to God's people in Leviticus 19:18 and Jesus, when asked what the greatest commandment was, said that this is second only to loving God (see Matthew 22:39). He shows us that the poor that we are discriminating against are in fact our neighbors. When we do not respect and show them love, we are breaking what Jesus called the second most important command.