For a christian to sit in judgement of another, because he is rich or poor, is intolerable. Disliking someone because they have more or less than you is plainly wrong. For us christian’s, a person’s net worth shouldn’t effect how we see them. Why do we romanticize the poor? Even Christians do this. Its like, we automatically assume that the less fortunate are more righteous. This is nothing new. In the New Testament there is much said about the rich and poor.
James 2:8 says, “8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”a] you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it…12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
See, stop hating on the wealthy. It says right here, “if you show favoritism, you sin”. So, lets give those poor, misunderstood billionaires a fair shake. Stop sinning!
“That’s not what this verse is saying…”
Traditionally this scripture has been read as a warning against showing preferential treatment toward the rich. And, for good reason. James strictly forbids that just a few sentences before we come to this passage. In that culture, one of patron-patient, it would have been very tempting to show favoritism toward a rich person. After all, finding favor in the eyes of a rich person could really give you a leg up in the world. Indeed, not much has changed. Our culture also glorifies wealth, but there is also an ugly aversion to it.
Some assume, prima facie, that all rich people alike are swindlers, gaining wealth at the expense of others. This is called discrimination. To be sure, there are immoral wealthy persons. To be sure, some have amassed fortunes at the expense of others. But today, with our interconnected world, the consumers have a much louder voice and disenfranchised workers have the ability to sue (in many cases). That’s to say nothing of unemployment benefits, and the social safety nets. A single negative tweet, Facebook post or google review can have far sweeping consequences for a business. If a rich man is a cheat, you’ll likely hear someone crowing about it online.
There is no reason to assume God is not with a wealthy person
Now the tide has turned, in many ways. There is a demographic set, in our culture, that will sneer at you; if you have the trappings of wealth. They will automatically and without thought assume you are immoral; judging you by your car, home, clothes, purse and wrist watch. We all do it. That’s part of our social nature. But, making value judgments about a person’s character based off of outward appearances is supposed to be a no go for christians.
Do you think I take this to far? Ask yourself, have I ever, even once, assumed a person was a good person because I saw them drive up in a Ferrari? Did I jump to the conclusion that he/she must be excessively charitable based off of seeing their Vacheron Constantin or Fendi Peekaboo Mini Studded Satchel Bag. (Yes, its a thing.) Probably not. Point taken, I hope.
Today we have politicians, like Bernie Sanders, and social engineers, like the Democrat Party, coaching us to deride the wealthy. Obama loved to say, “they aren’t paying their fair share.” Say what you want about Crooked Hilary, but she was not against wealth. (At least not in her own case). In our culture there is an implicit sentiment that if you aren’t playing fair, you are bad. His slogan amounts to saying the wealthy are bad. He just says it slyly. When Bernie speaks of billionaires his gruff voice takes on tone of sneering rejection. And, that’s just the subtext stuff.
The wealthy are unfairly categorized as immoral. It is this kind of castigation that is unseemly in a Republic, and down right sinful for a Christian. The fact is many millionaires and billionaires go to great lengths to give away their wealth. There are tax incentives, to be sure. (Look into the Rockefellers, to see a family who knows how to give away its fortune to avoid taxes. That said, John D Rockefeller reportedly loved the lord. He was quoted as saying “God gave me money”, and he did not apologize for it. He followed John Wesley’s principle of “gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.”)
HTC Corporation’s Cher Wang is the richest person in Taiwan. She is a devout christian. The founder of Mary Kay products said, “God first, family second, career third.” She tells women in her company they have to keep balance, never losing sight of what really happens. These people know how good it feels to cash a big check. But, I can tell you from own (proportionately smaller) experience how good it feels to stroke a (proportionately) big check to your church or charity of choice. Look at all the billionaires who have given away huge sums, and even promising up to half their net worth upon their demise. These fact speak for themselves.
The more value one creates, or problems one solves, the more wealth one should expect to accumulate. It is so much fun to earn money, then give it away. It is so much fun to spend. It is so much fun to occupy one’s life creating value, providing a service or product, and meeting people’s material needs. It is so much fun to fund charities, participate in community organizations, and use those leadership skills gained from a lifetime of being in business. Who do you think builds those giant churches we all love to visit? It ain’t the poor.