1 Cor. 1:26, Not Many Influential, Not Many of Noble Birth, But God Has Chosen the Foolish…
Are the rich and influential more spiritual and greater in faith than the poor and lowly among the saints?
You’d think so if you were to examine the membership of many church boards and eldership rolls. And yet both His Apostles (James and Paul particularly) and Jesus himself strongly warned against this trend or attitude which has become epidemic in today’s contemporary church and culture. Just one example in James say’s, “ If a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine cloths and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes and you pay special attention to the one in fine clothes…Have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen my dear brothers, has not God chosen the poor of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom of those that love Him? But you have insulted the poor …”James 2:1-6
Nor are we chase after the rich or riches. Hear Paul; “For we have brought nothing into this world and it is certain we will carry nothing out. And having food and raiment with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…” 1 Timothy 6:7-10. Wow, that’s counter-culture.
Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of an needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:25
Should we then discriminate against the rich and throw them out of our churches? By no means, although it certainly might be a refreshing change of attitude. Our eyes should be on the Almighty and not on all the wealth of the rich and the pain or blessings they can bestow or withhold from us. They can’t help it if they are rich and it is no sin to be rich. If the rich have some talent, encourage them in it. If they do some good with their excess goods, let them know you appreciate it. And contrary to popular thought, the rich don’t have to give a penny more to anyone or anything than God lay’s on their conscience to give. What they have is theirs and they have as much a right to it as a poor or middle class person does with their belongings. Many of them have worked hard for it and others have received it in honest inheritance and within God’s providence and blessing.
But being rich does not make a person a bible scholar.
Martin Luther once said that God gives to the rich money, and he gives them little else. So in other words, treat them like you would anyone. Do they need a rebuke? Give them a rebuke. Do you think they are wrong or in sin? Then hold them accountable. Do they do good? Honor them for it. I know the thought of holding them accountable can be daunting, because of the possibility of loss of financial opportunity, but try and resist the temptation of putting them on a spiritual pedestal based on financial worth. The world is not blind to what motivates such behavior and neither is God.
I know that can be hard, but to do anything less is to be guilty of committing the sin of favoritism or partiality, according to James, a sin warned against in both testaments and is to fear men more than God.