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“GIVE ME NEITHER POVERTY or RICHES”: The MISSING FACTOR, whether for or against WOF

Posted by Gabriel (G²) on November 30, 2007

>Proverbs 30:7-9

7 “Two things I ask of you, O LORD;
do not refuse me before I die:
8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me;

give me neither poverty nor riches,

but give me only my daily bread.

9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the LORD ?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.

For many against WOF, one of the main issues has been what appears to be such a heavy emphasis on pursuing riches/wealth as a pre-requsite for glorifying the Lord……which of course is dangerous because having too much money can lead to one turning AWAY from the Lord.

However, where many adressing the issue may miss it is that they end up advocating what appears to be a POVERTY MENTALITY. In other words, not having riches/wealth or living comfortably becomes the standard…..and the reality is that having too little can be just as dangerous as well.

Regarding the scripture posted, how often have you heard sermons preached on the issue from BOTH SIDES? More often than not, it is an “EITHER OR” mentality when it comes to discussing the prosperity doctrine.

Being poor can, in fact, be hazardous to spiritual as well as physical health. However, being rich is NOT THE ANSWER. As Jesus Pointed out, RICH PEOPLE have trouble getting into the KINGDOM OF GOD (Matthew 19:23-24)……and the solution to BOTH EXTREMES is realizing that neither is the ideal……and that, moreover, living in victory means that we must do like Paul and learn to live whether we have little or plenty (Philippians 4:12), but our lives are more likely to be effective if we have “NEITHER POVERTY OR RICHES.”

As another recently shared with me, if one teaches against the wof view of prosperity, then many within wof automatically thinks that one is teaching that we should live in poverty. The wof teaching is so far to one side, that anything that is even slightly to the other side is thought to be so far to the other side that there it couldn’t possibly be balanced.

Luk 6:20 KJV And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.

Luk 6:24 KJV But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.

Pro 22:9 KJV He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.

Christ blesses the poor, so that is not a “spiritual extreme”, it is not something that should be seen as sinful state.

He pronounces woe to the rich, telling them they have already been given their comfort and consolation.

And the proverb addresses that one that has bounty, more than he needs, and gives to the poor is a blessing.

By the way, to anyone interested, here are some solid resources that have helped me regarding developing a balanced mentality (IMHO) on the issue of wealth, riches, and poverty and approaching them from a BIBLICAL STANDPOINT:

 http://www.9marks.org/partner/Article_Display_Page/0,,PTID314526|CHID598016|CIID2376562,00.html

(ON what the Bibles says about the POOR)

What follows is what I belive to be some of the MOST IN-DEPTH STUDIES ON THE ISSUE OF WEALTH/PROSPERITY as the BIBLE DEFINES IT THAT I KNOW OF. They’re from “HEAVEN’S FAMILY” ( http://www.shepherdserve.org/ttne/ttne_01.htm ), & I do believe that it’d be worth studying for people on ALL SIDES of the PROSPERITY GOSPEL issue since most people vaguely understand the issue of STEWARDSHIP in the BIBLE…….& it’d be wisdom to become educated on the subject from those who seem to understand it best:

Proverbs 10:14
Wise men store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.

Proverbs 15:14
The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.

Proverbs 18:15
The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.

Proverbs 19:2
It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.

Moreover, it’s quite a RARE THING to hear someone who has worthwile insights on an issue that has been so GROSSLY misunderstood by people on EVERY SIDE.

Proverbs 24:4-6

4 through knowledge its rooms are filled
with rare and beautiful treasures.
5 A wise man has great power,
and a man of knowledge increases strength;
6 for waging war you need guidance,
and for victory many advisers.

Proverbs 20:15
Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.

That said, Check them out, & pray it blesses someone……

http://www.shepherdserve.org/ttne/ttne_01.htm (On the issue of the Rich Young Man & HIS DEATH SPIRITUALLY)

http://www.shepherdserve.org/ttne/ttne_11.htm (Regarding an enlightening, in-depth/honest and humbke study on The Old Testament View of RICHES, SCRIPTURE BY SCRIPUTE)

http://www.shepherdserve.org/ttne/ttne_09.htm  (Regarding an in-depth study on what the Word says regarding the NEW TESTAMENT view on MONEY, Scripture by Scripture

For the COMPLETE STUDY AND resources/SERMONS on the issue, simply look on the sidebar on the left that’s entitled “Stewardship and Money”. Truly, it’ll bless you……
__________________

Back to the post, when I brought up the issue with another, he said “I’ve seen instances where woffers were told to “sell everything they had and give the money to the poor” based on a scripture. In addition to the camel and the eye of a needle example is the scriptural reference to when Jesus told the fishermen to leave their “stuff” behind and to follow him. Upon doing so they became Apostles of Christ.

Antiwoffers here use these scriptures to browbeat woffers over the accumulation of wealth. These examples are never offered in any middle-of-the-road manner, but as absolutes.”

To that, I agree…..n addition to that, as dangerous as it is to see a wrong intrepretation of wealth (i.e. MATERIALISM, Prosperity Gospel, God WANTS ME RICH, etc), there seems to be a more subtle abuse (abeit more unoticeable) that’s just as deadly in churches not CONNECTED with WOF, whether it be Baptist, Prebysteryian, Non-Denominational, etc——Asceticism, which is a way of thinking that sees money and things as evil……and promotes the idea that the less you own, the more spiritual you are and that if something isn’t essential, you shouldn’t have it.

From this mentality has come many statements/beliefs that have been just as damaging to the Body as the MATERIALISM you often will see on T.V..

Specifically, To those who are buisness owners/entreperneurs or middle/upper clases, hearing others say things like

* “If you’re rich, you have nothing to offer to the KINGDOM OF God/are of no benefit—-and God ALWAYS favors those who are poor more than those who are rich”

* …….or, in believing that if you’re in poverty, you’re automatically considered more spiritual/godly than someone who is rich, and saying “ALL THOSE RICH PEOPLE, THEY NEED TO JUST GIVE ALL THEIR MONEY AWAY. Thank goodness I’m not like em”!!!!”

* “God doesn’t EVER bless you FINANCIALLY if you give, and really it doesn’t matter whether or not you invest FINANCIALLY/Give at all in the kingdom since our focus should be on more SPIRITUAL THINGS……..Live for Heaven, Not Earth you know?”)

Personally, I think that many of those responses were immature. They don’t take into account that many things Scripture says regarding differing giftings in the body of Christ that may involve a high level of Stewardship FINANCIALLY and LEADERSHIP……or include the fact that Scripture never condems one being rich (but merely says that those who SEEK TO BE RICH are in trouble…..and with more riches come MORE PROBLEMS/PRESSURE)and even gives admonition as to how to be one and handle it properly if in the circumstance (I Timothy 6).

It doesn’t take into account one of the main gifts of the Spirit people often forget, which is the GIFT OF GIVING/PROVIDING GENEROUSLY:
Quote:

Romans 12

3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his[b]faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him
Quote:

f

1 Corinthians 12

Spiritual Gifts

1Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. 2You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

4There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

12The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.

26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31But eagerly desire[e] the greater gifts.

And now I will show you the most excellent way.

In my opinion (and based on many of the articles I supplied earlier), I think that Gods Word gives room to the idea that he has gifted some people with adminstration/the ability to generate wealth….specifically so that they may be able to do things that’ll aid those less fortunate (i.e. helping the homeless, the hurting, feeding widows/orphans, funding mission trips/benevolence ministries and other creative things that are explicitly of importance to the heart of God & would be of benefit to the KINGDOM).

There may be some who are genuinely called to be Christian Buisessmen/Leaders who will help others who handle their finances BIBLICALLY.

Many of the same principles regarding finance that many within the Prosperity Movement preach on (and DID NOT ORIGINATE WITH THEM) are indeed of merit since God does not desire His Children to mishandle the finances they have……..and to use them wisely so that they’ll be in a position to provide for themselves and others like the Early Church in Acts 2 and Acts 4/

For an excellent look into what I’m talking about, consider this website:

www.generousgiving.com

http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=28&page=

http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=9&page=

Curious……..has anyone ever stopped to consider that perhaps we who often speak out agains those seeking riches may be doing the same things ourselves.

For example, compared to the rest of the world, we who live in America even by MIDDLE-CLASS Standards are considered RICH…..and for those in other countries, when they look at us pursuing things many of us would quickly defend against giving up in exchange for increasing our ability to be financial givers to the Body of Christ (“Excelling in the grace of giving”) (i.e. our clothes, media/tv and cable, going out to eat, etc), they may consider that to be hyprocrisy. This is something I’ve recently been convicted on, for though MANY PROSPERITY TEACHERS ARE CLEARLY IN THE WRONG FOR SOME OF THE THINGS THEY TEACH ON PROSPERITY, perhaps many of us are doing the same thing……simply on a different wavelength.

When discussing the issue elsewhere, someone shared this with me:

Quote:

Let me comment on the “compared to the rest of the world” thought. Has it occurred to you that if not for the American generosity, above and beyond what the government spends every year of our taxes, that feeds and clothes countless millions of folks. We send our sons and daughters around the world to teach those that are born into ignorance and poverty, we send them to fight for their freedoms and secure for them justice and establish systems of education to educate them.If not for the generosity of the American MIDDLE-CLASS much of the world would quickly die from starvation and sickness. We send our best minds around the world to heal them and bring them healthy conditions in which better secures their well being.

And on top of that, much money is spent by the middle class to bring folks into America to teach medicine, engineering and other trades to the foreigner, we allow them to stay and practice what they have learned so they can help their countries with money they earn while they are here. And if they go back to their country to practice what they have learned here, with the help of American citizens, we often will aid them.

We fund the universities and colleges to insure that almost any one that can get to them is assured that they can receive and education, even the blind, handicapped and those with learning disabilities.

Has it occurred to you that it is because of this commitment, that was taught to us by the Reformers by the way, to education and the pursuit of happiness that we in America have work hard and accomplished much to earn the prosperity that we enjoy. For the most part we have earned what we have, as opposed to expect it from God because we think He wants to give to us what we don’t earn by our hard work, sweat and effort.

And just as the scripture tells us, that those that pursue their occupations for enjoyment, and their work and toil will be rewarded, God has been generous to the country, just as He said He would.
[/quote]

To that, I replied by saying that from a differing angle, there are still some things for the middle class that are STILL an issue….

Not saying that the middle class have not worked hard and don’t deserve to be compensated, or that there hasn’t been an impact in the world by our country…….but to me, it seems a bit of a double standard when I’m saying that because I’m middle class HELPING others that I don’t have to scale down in my expenses or in things I don’t necessarily need that people in other parts of the world are clearly seeing as excess…..or that my defending of those things (really “wants/desires”) in reality is any better than someone preaching excessive PROSPERITY AND THAT I NEED LAVISH RICHES IN ORDER TO BE SATISFIED.

How many of us would be cool simply living off of enough? And are we personally willing to be ready to point the gun back on ourselves when it comes to riches?

Are we willing to define riches no longer as seeking AN AFFLUENT LIFESTYLE but also in terms of HAVING MORE THAN ENOUGH BUT HOLDING ONTO THE EXCESSES? Are we willing to live RADICALLY LIKE THE NT CHURCH, in which there was EQUALITY?

Not the mentality of “Well, I’m a Christian and I have 3 cars, live good and it’s all cool cause I’m helping others…….but at least I’M NOT AS BAD AS CREFLO since he owns a MANSION!!! (even though he himself has used many of his riches to fund many valid things such as schools for inner-city children and things of that nature)”” or that we can spend our resources on silly things such as entertainment, movies, and other things and yet never consider how we can SCALE DOWN on those things so that those around us may be on the same page (Acts 2)?

To be more specific, most Americans live far beyond their means, and in the process amass debt that cripples their giving. Others choose to consume every dime they have in spending or saving, leaving precious little to give away to those who are less fortunate.

What’s even scarier, though, is that many believe that they’re truly cool with God because in their eyes, “THEY’RE MIDDLE CLASS”, “NOT RICH”……..AND THEY DESERVE TO GIVE THEMSELVES A GOOD TIME…..and they can easily recognize a PROSPERITY TEACHER FOR THE EXCESS THEY PREACH yet are NEVER WILLING TO BE INTROSPECTIVE AND EXAMINE THEMSELVES FOR ANY OF THE AREAS IN THEIR LIVES. Many people bringing up the issues with Prosperity or things in WOF have many valid points, but when challenged to live the life of a SACRIFICAL GIVER, they’re not even willing to do so. They have the ability to give and live uncomfortably but choose not to……and many times, the reason why is given in this answer:

“I WORK HARD, HELP OTHERS….SO I DESERVE TO BE AT THE LEVEL I’M AT…..& BESIDES, IT’S MY MONEY!!!!!!”

That’s something that’s rarely adressed…..& God’s not cool with that EITHER….

Has God called most of us to live like paupers? Of course not….. but neither are we given permission to concentrate solely on ourselves rather than the needs of his kingdom.

AS Paul told the Corinthians, many of us have been especially blessed so that we can be a blessing to those in need—not to make us all poor, but so that we can work for equality (2 Corinthians 8:13-15; II Corinthians 9:11).

Similarly, in Luke 16, Jesus tells the parable of a rich man who lived in splendor, health and safety and was well dressed, religious and respected.

However, he ignored the poor in his community in order to provide for his own comforts and security.

According to the parable , such callous disregard for the condition of others signifies God’s judgement on us, for the Bible continually calls us to look at our own status and gauge our ability to respond accordingly (Luke 3:7-11; 1 John 3:16-19; Acts 4:34-37).

Truth be told, for most of us, changes in our spending habits can and SHOULD be made, whether gradually or suddenly…..and as the examples in Scripture show, we must consider why God has blessed us: Is it for our own consumption, safety and comfort? Or has God (also) blessed us so we can be a blessing to others?

For more thoughts on the issue,, consider what Mr.Shepherd said in another comment:

Quote:
I Timothy 6:3-10

6:3-10 To “suppose that godliness is a means of gain” (6:5) is obviously a wrong supposition, and one that is held by “men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth” (6:5). Because their lives consist of their possessions, because money is their god, because they find their joy in material things, because they have no higher goal than accumulating more, they foolishly think that the only reason someone might live in a godly fashion is to gain earthly wealth.

Lest Timothy think that he was saying that nothing was to be gained by godliness, Paul quickly states that godliness, when accompanied by contentment, is indeed a means of great gain (see 6:6). He was speaking, of course, of eternal heavenly gain, not temporal earthly gain, as he makes so clear in the very next verse.

There he says that we can take nothing more with us at death than we brought with us at birth. Thus the godly person sees the utter foolishness of devoting his life to gaining what he must one day forfeit. Likewise, he is wisely content with what he has for the present, even if it is only food and covering (see 6:8).

He knows that his contentment, an indication of his freedom from greed, will ultimately be a means of “great gain” (6:6), for he will one day live forever in heaven, since God, not mammon, is his Master. Beyond that, any sacrificial giving, made possible by his contentment with little, will reap for him abundant heavenly rewards.

Those who are not content with having only their needs met, that is, those who “want to get rich” (6:9), face inevitable temptations that plunge them, according to Paul, into “ruin and destruction” (6:9).

Paul certainly had more than financial ruin and destruction in mind here. He was referring to temporal and eternal consequences. He, as well as other New Testament authors, frequently used the word destruction (Greek, apoleia) to signify eternal damnation (see Matt. 7:13; Rom. 9:22; Phil. 1:28; 3:19; 2 Thes. 2:3; Heb. 10:39; 2 Pet. 2:1, 3; 3:7, 16; Rev. 17:8, 11). The King James Version translates the last of part of this verse, “destruction and perdition” (emphasis added).

In the very next verse, 6:10, Paul makes it even more obvious that he was thinking not just of the temporal consequences of desiring to be rich, as he states that some believers began to love money and consequently “wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang.”

To “wander away from the faith” is to no longer meet the qualification for salvation, that is, faith; thus one has forfeited his salvation. At death, unless he repents beforehand, he will be eternally condemned.

If desiring to be rich can result in eternal damnation, it would be helpful to know what it means to be “rich.” When we consider Paul’s contrast in 6:8-9, it seems he believed that anyone who had more than what he needed is rich:

Quote:
“And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction” (emphasis added).
If Paul had said, “If we have a three-bedroom house, two cars, and plenty of clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation,” would we not assume he meant that anyone who isn’t content with a three-bedroom house, two cars, and plenty of clothing, is among those who “want to get rich”? Certainly.

Webster’s New World Dictionary defines the word rich no differently than Paul. It helps us to understand the modern definition of the word rich by comparing it with other synonyms:

Rich is the general word for one who has more money or income-producing property than is necessary to satisfy normal needs; wealthy adds to this connotations of grand living, influence in the community, a tradition of richness, etc. [a wealthy banker]; affluent suggests a continuing increase of riches and a concomitant lavish spending [to live in affluent circumstances]; opulent suggests the possession of great wealth as displayed in luxurious or ostentatious living [an opulent mansion]; well-to-do implies sufficient prosperity for easy living.[9]

Thus we see that our own modern definition of the word rich reveals that if ones desires more than what “is necessary to satisfy normal needs,” then one desires to be rich. Let us not fool ourselves then, to think that Paul’s warning to “those who want to get rich” (6:9) applies only to those who long to be wealthy, affluent or live opulently.

Most Americans don’t see themselves as being rich, yet billions of people in the world consider all of us to be very rich, and rightfully so. And still we strive to gain more. Discontentment is the driving force in our materialistic culture, and the American church appears to be keeping right in step. Consequently, we continually “fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction” (6:9).

The love of money is taking North Americans to hell by the millions, many of whom think they are Christians. Yet what North American would admit that he is guilty of either “the love of money,” or “longing for it”? I suspect very few.

Even though our lives revolve around the acquiring and selfish spending of money, surely we don’t love it. Yet Paul made his point very clear. If one’s needs are met and he is not content, longing for more, he loves money. Is this not also made clear in
Quote:

Hebrews 13:5: “Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have.”

If one is not content with having his needs met, he loves money.

Into what kind of temptations, snares and “foolish and harmful desires” (6:9) do lovers of money inevitably fall? One temptation is to gain wealth by unrighteous means.

If one has no desire to get rich, one is not tempted to do something unrighteous to enrich himself. Yet how many of us are doing something or investing in what we know to be sinful? And why? Because getting rich is more important to us than obeying God. We love money more than Him, and it is just that simple.

The greatest temptation that lovers of money fall into is the temptation not to love God as He should be loved, making money one’s master. The one who is discontent with having his needs met, who longs for more, will be devoting his life to money, making it impossible for him to devote his life to God.

Quote:
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other” (Luke 16:13).
It is impossible to serve God and mammon.

The lover of money also faces great temptation to act selfishly, not loving one’s neighbor as he should (see 6:18), keeping what he ought to share, ignoring the second greatest commandment.

Does all this mean that every Christian should scale down to the point of having only food and covering? No, because as I’ve stated in an earlier chapter, our needs often exceed those bare necessities. However, Paul’s words, which harmonize perfectly with what Jesus taught, indicate that every Christian should scale down to owning only what he needs (and there could be some variance from what one Christian needs compared to another depending on their circumstances).

Those who have more or gain more than they need should generously share their excess, as Paul points out in 6:17-19 (the next passage we will consider).

Also, consider this as well…

Quote:

James 2:1-9

Once again we have the opportunity to compare the church in James’ day with the modern American church. James relates how a poor man dressed in dirty clothes might come into a gathering.

If anyone is that poor in America, he would probably not consider visiting a church service due to his embarrassment about his clothing. He would also know that he runs a very good chance of not being permitted to enter many churches.

James also describes a rich man who might come into an assembly. Interestingly, what marks him as being rich is that he has “a gold ring and [is] dressed in fine clothes”! (2:2).

That description fits the large majority of Americans who attend churches. Even if they aren’t wearing “fine clothes,” it is only because they chose to leave their fine clothes at home. Once again we are faced with the fact that by biblical standards we are rich, even though we may not be by American standards.

The sin James addresses here is the sin of showing partiality. When a rich person receives favored treatment over a poor person, the second greatest commandment is broken (see 2:8). One is not loving his neighbor as himself. He is not treating the poor person as he wants to be treated.
James questions why such partiality would be shown.

Why would we automatically honor a rich man and dishonor a poor man, both of whom we know nothing about, when we know what God esteems and despises? We know that God loves the poor, having special compassion for them, choosing them to be “rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom” (2:5).

Indeed, God has chosen “the base things of the world and the despised…the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are” (1 Cor. 1:28). In contrast, the rich are often guilty of sins that arouse God’s anger, not the least of which is their explointing the poor, whom He loves so much, in order to enrich themselves. They also often blaspheme God’s name (see 2:6-8). Thus how foolish it is to honor automatically a rich man and dishonor a poor man based on no other criteria than their apparent wealth or poverty.

If we are to err in the matter, better to err by honoring the poor over the rich. In most instances, the rich man is likely to be far from God, while the poor man is more likely to respond to God’s love. Not knowing what is in the heart of either, however, we should honor them both with good seats when they visit our gathering. And we shouldn’t be surprised when the poor man responds to the gospel while the rich man remains devoted to mammon.

The only reason that someone would show partiality to the rich is because of an evil motive, probably the hope of personal gain (see 2:4). As Solomon astutely observed, “Wealth adds many friends….and every man is a friend to him who gives gifts” (Proverbs 19:4, Proverbs 19:6).

This phenomenon can be easily observed in American churches, where pastors often yield to the temptation of showing favoritism to those with the most wealth. This sin can at least be partially mitigated if the pastor does not know what any individual contributes to his church.

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