In our study of James chapter two, we will look at poverty and God's plan for the church. If we stop and look at all of the government programs from around the world to fight poverty, we will be amazed by how ineffective they truly are. We may ask ourselves why this is so and why God allows so much hurt and suffering. The simple fact of the matter is that the "church of today" has largely went missing in action in God's war on poverty. The poor are mentioned often in scripture and it is made clear that it is the duty of believers in Christ (not governments) to take care of the widows and the poor. James reminds us of this in this chapter!
"My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism." NIV translation
It is interesting to note once again that, instead of reminding us that he was Jesus' half-brother, he calls Jesus "our glorious Lord Jesus Christ".
We can also see immediately that he is addressing us because of our relationship with that same Jesus. He gets right to the point in telling us not to show "favoritism".
"Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, 'Here's a good seat for you,' but say to the poor man, 'You stand there' or 'Sit on the floor by my feet,' have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?" NIV translation
Now, he gives an example from one of the believers' meetings. It is important to note here that he is not talking about going to a "church" building but is in fact talking about when the believers met in a home. James shows us two different reactions to men and the reactions are based on their outward appearance of riches. Then he asks them (and us) to examine those reactions and the motives behind them. We may be quick to say that we do not do this but just try to imagine these two men walking into our worship meetings. The simple fact is that in many cases the reaction is based on the judgment that the poorly dressed do not have the financial means to further the "mission of the church" and they are seen as takers and a burden to the rest of the "members". Often, leaders will fall all over themselves to get to the one that appears to be rich and not even notice the poor.