Our theme for this month: “Character and Integrity”
Our Bible verse for today: “My brothers and sisters, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if someone comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor person dressed in filthy clothes also comes in, if you look with favor on the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Sit here in a good place,’ and yet you say to the poor person, ‘Stand over there,’ or ‘Sit here on the floor by my footstool,’ haven’t you made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” James 2:1-4 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Don’t look down on the poor”
Many years ago I was in a conversation with another Pastor whose church had a van ministry to families in a low-income housing project. On Wednesdays and Sundays the church would send the van to provide transportation for those who wanted to come to church but had no way to get there. As he was describing the ministry to me, I could tell the Pastor wasn’t really very enthused about it and I asked him why that was. His response floored me. He said, “Well, let’s face it Jim, you can’t build a church with people like that, because they don’t have any money.”
I almost swallowed my tongue when he said that. I was stunned to hear him say that he rated the value of church members and attenders based upon how much money they were likely to give to the church. It was the exact mindset that James warns us against in James 2:1-4.
I know that I write about our church, Oak Hill Baptist, a lot. But that’s because I love our people so much and I’m so proud of them. James would have been proud of them too, because they model the kind of gracious and generous spirit he called for. Any person who walks through the doors of Oak Hill Baptist Church will quickly be surrounded by many people warmly welcoming them – and really meaning it. The church also puts lots of time, effort, and money into supporting our local Rescue Mission. Likewise, significant resources and investments of time and effort are channeled to impoverished families in Appalachia, and to a children’s orphanage in Peru, and to another in Haiti, and to a missionary family in Southeast Asia, and to a little church in a remote region of Liberia, Africa.
I’m convinced that a revealing measure of Christian character is seen in how the poor are treated – by us as individuals and by our churches. Jesus taught us to have compassion and mercy on those who are less fortunate than ourselves. Not pity, and certainly not a smug or superior attitude, but genuine love and concern.
The poor, the outcasts, the marginalized, and the disabled are important to God and therefore they must be important to us too. God cares about the poor, and as His people we should care about them too.