For “Scripture Sunday”:
How Should Christians Treat the Poor?
All Christians need to take seriously this challenge of not showing favoritism.
Faith in Jesus Christ owes nothing to finance, education, social standing, or racial profile. During Jesus’ life, He moved among the masses. He did not move among the intelligentsia or the rich and famous of His day.
Therefore, when a church gets it wrong and affords peculiar benefits, blessings, affections and opportunities to someone on the basis of the designer of their shoes, or on the particular emblem on their car, then that church needs a healthy serving of chapter 2 from the book of James.
We may display mercy and kindness, but is it within an exclusive framework? God works to wean us away from bias and prejudice, toward His standard of the treatment of others.
James, brother of Jesus, writes, “My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality ” (James 2:1, emphasis added). James holds an individual’s assertion of faith up to their treatment of the poor. In verses 1-9 of his letter we are warned about the danger of treating people in different ways according to their outward appearance. In short, he warns of the danger of favoritism based on their financial standing.
A helpful illustration is then provided for the believers to whom he writes.
Two strangers enter into the gathering of God’s people: one rich, one poor. Imagine, he says, that someone comes into your assembly and he has the outward appearances of wealth. He is clad in fine raiment and adorned in gold. Simultaneously, another man shows up and he is obviously at the other end of the spectrum. He is dirty and his clothes are in disrepair.
The strangers come in and the good seat is given to the one of perceived substance. He is shown special attention. He is someone who perhaps will be able to make a financial contribution to the assembly. The other stranger, of course, is a poor man. He is in shabby clothes and for him, there is no special treatment or seat offered.
James next says something very important: if you give partiality to the rich visitor and disregard the poor man, then you have sinned. “You are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:9).
We may think we are a long way from the time in which James wrote these words. Surely we won’t run into anything like that here in our Christian gatherings today. But we don’t have to go too far back to find Christian congregations that imposed fees for preferential seating. There have been actual parishes of the past that allowed their members to pay an annual rent so as to secure a well-placed seat in the church. These pews even came with their own door and with their own key so as to prevent anyone from sitting in the paying member’s pew!
After all, the rich who had secured earthly wealth were entitled, so it was thought, to that kind of preferential treatment. Those whose finances were not sufficient were consigned to finding a spot in the open seating, floor or just simply to stand.
And over the centuries, this favoritism has even spilled into the appointment of leadership in churches. An individual may be assigned a position of leadership not on account of the size of their heart or commitment to God, but rather on account of the size of their wallet.
Unfortunately, just as in centuries past, money still does the talking far too loudly in some Christian circles. But where it does and when it does the presence of God will eventually depart.
What the Bible makes absolutely clear is that wealth does not in and of itself deserve honor. We should never associate wealth with faith in Jesus Christ.
All Christians need to take seriously this challenge of not showing favoritism.
If we want to know how to assess a fellow Christian’s value, then we must consider the basis upon which God chose His people the Israelites from the hand of the Egyptians. Deuteronomy 7:7-8 states: “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you.” The fact is that He came and redeemed His people from Egypt when they were just a bunch of slaves! He didn’t come and redeem the ruling class, rather He came and redeemed those who had nothing. In fact, their very beings belonged to their Egyptian masters.
Consider further how Jesus came from a position of unparalleled wealth and glory in heaven, and moved graciously and kindly among the poor and lowly. His approach to the poor? “Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:5).
The King set aside glory in order to come down into our humble existence. It is only when we grasp this that we’ll begin to face up to the ugliness of our treating others on the basis of what is external and superficial.
If God had operated on that basis with us, what kind of seat do you think we would have? Rather, God sent His Son while we were still in the debt and filth of our sin.
Let us all pray to God to help us not get this wrong. We cannot make misguided applications based upon our own preferences. Let’s ask God for forgiveness for any times we have knowingly or unknowingly refused to offer the good seat to the poor. May God help us to go forward so we might do right and reflect His love more—so that we might increasingly become the kind of assemblies where all who enter would be welcomed irrespective of social status or resources.” From: https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/bible-questions-and-answers/how-should-christians-treat-the-poor
Jeremiah 10, A Christmas Tree or Not?
Is Jeremiah 10 really talking about a Christmas tree, or something else?
[Darris McNeely] “The question has come in from a Beyond Today viewer regarding Jeremiah chapter 10 and what it says about bringing a tree in and decorating it with gold and silver, and whether or not that is talking about a Christmas tree.
[Steve Myers] It says some interesting things when you actually read what it says there in Jeremiah chapter 10. And it starts out I think in an amazing way in verse 2 by saying, and this is God talking, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Do not learn the way of the Gentiles.’” Some versions say heathens. And then He goes on to say,
“The customs of the peoples are useless. They’re futile. One cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman with an axe.
They decorate it with silver and gold. They fasten it with nails, hammers so that it will not topple. They are upright like a palm tree. They cannot speak” (Jeremiah 10:2-5).
So what exactly is it talking about? Some of those things, especially if you look at the holiday decorations start to sound pretty familiar.
[Darris McNeely] Matches up pretty closely, doesn’t it, to what might, what is a Christmas tree and what Christmas decorations of gold and tinsel on a tree that’s been cut down from the woods, at least in the traditional way, brought into a home, set up, and around which gifts are spread. It is very, very plain, and matches up with this. Now, some commentators on Jeremiah chapter 10 say that this is talking about a form of idolatry where a tree is cut, but then it is cut into a totem or an idol from that, and the axe is actually a skilled artisan carver that makes this into something different from and therefore cannot be applied to the idea of a modern Christmas tree. But I think that the fact that Jeremiah here is talking about avoiding the practices of the heathen that then become idolatry and a part of worship that replaces something that is truthful was something that is wrong and pagan in place of God. I think that it still refer to what is being described here.
[Steve Myers] Absolutely applies in the sense that if you look into some of the practices of the pagans during this day, they did worship trees. They worshipped all kinds of things. They had a god for just about everything you could imagine. So when you look at the trees, especially at this time of the year, they’re looking at the life that a green tree would bring. And that was a common practice back in that day as well.
[Darris McNeely] Yeah, they were cut. They were used in the middle of the winter time because they supposedly didn’t die, still had life in them, and to represent the life that people wanted to gather around at this time of year in the darkest part of the winter. Those trees were a part of the practice of the ancient world, and yes they did migrate into other parts of the world including Northern Europe from which our modern customs in the United States and the Western world regarding a Christmas tree eventually were adopted. And yet they were still connected with pagan ideas and worship that did migrate from the exact part of the world Jeremiah is talking about where anciently green trees, evergreen trees, were even used in the winter time as a part of this type of worship.
[Steve Myers] And I think that’s such an important point. Can you adopt a pagan principle? Can you adopt something from the Gentiles or heathens, those that don’t know the true God, and somehow try to use that to honor God? Well, He says right here don’t learn that way. Do not do that. That is not a way to honor God by adopting some other practice, and try to call it Christian. He says that’s unacceptable. You can’t do it.
[Darris McNeely] And so you’re left with the question: does it really matter? And the answer is it does matter. And truth does matter and our worship and our relationship with God, we should worship Him in spirit and in truth and not according to the ways that are adopted from heathenism or paganism. That’s what the scripture says. It does matter.” From: https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-daily/jeremiah-10-a-christmas-tree-or-not
Jay came here and helped put down the padding and tack strip for the living room carpet in the mini-house. I had bought the carpet but we didn’t have time to lay it.
On Tuesday, I had an appointment to take the black Manx cat in for a check-up. I couldn’t let him near my foster-cat until he had been checked out, so he had been isolated in my grooming room. I had disinfected my hands every time I tended to him. Just as well, he checked positive for FIV, a terminal, contagious, cat disease and had to be PTS. He was such a sweet, loving, affectionate cat, and I am glad that I gave him his few weeks of love and care instead of him dying alone, hurt and cold on the streets. I miss him.
The next day, Zack, and I tore the grooming room apart. We carried the cages outside and bleached them, then disinfected everything before it was all put back in place. While we were waiting for the cages to dry, we laid out the carpet, cut it to size, and let it rest and breathe.
The next day Jay came to install the carpet, but a new shop light fixture needed installing in the workshop, and that took quite a while. Zack had already put it up, then tried to put it together and got frustrated with it. So it had been left for Jay who did a lot of that in a big office where he used to work. But he couldn’t figure it out either. So we took it down and laid it out on a table, then it was easy to see how it went together. It is amazing how simple some things are when you know. Patience is the key. So the carpet still isn’t installed.
This week I had quite a lot of veggies, so I spent some time cooking them. Some were steamed, like the two giant bok choy. Some were oven-roasted, like the zucchini, new potatoes, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Some were baked, like the big potatoes. The celery and onions were pan fried and I still have quite a few onions to do, then the green beans were boiled. Once they are cooked I can freeze them in Mason jars. But as I live on mostly veggies, they won’t last long.
So, for the church potluck, I took the roasted organic zucchini, and some organic chicken breasts in gravy. The pastor and his wife were both sick with colds, so it was up to Jeff, the elder who plays the guitar, to lead the service, and up to me to take care of the kitchen. The pastor’s wife had sent chili, green salad and sweet potatoes with Jeff, as they live near each other. Jay had gone with me, so he helped me clean up the kitchen because he was in a hurry to get home, and so we couldn’t stay for the Bible study afterwards.
The BiBle readings were Psa. 105:1-10, Gen: 28:10-32:3, Hos. 12:13-14:9 and Matt. 2128-32. The Teaching was about Hanukkah. Definition: “A festival lasting eight days, celebrated from the 25th day of the month of Kislev to the 2nd of Tevet in commemoration of the rededication of the Temple by the Maccabees following their victory over the Syrians under Antiochus IV, characterized chiefly by the lighting of the menorah on each night of the festival.” I would like to have heard the teaching, but I was busy getting the hot meal ready for all the people who had shown up on that cold Sabbath day.