We all tend to have our favorites. Favorite pizza, favorite drink, favorite sports team. And while that’s all well and good, James tells us that having favorites among the classes, opting to care about some people while forsaking others, is bad news. Well, not only bad news, but down right ridiculous in God’s eyes.
He gives the example of two men coming into a meeting, one dressed to the nines, the other in rags. The well-dressed gent is given a great seat at the table, all of the meeting notes beforehand, his parking validated in advance and possibly a bottled water accompanied by a lemon twist. The man in rags? He is told that the corner on the floor is a great seat for him and that they hope he brought some scratch paper to take notes. And if he’s thirsty, they think there’s a water hose out back. This is discrimination. God isn’t fond of it.
I particularly like this passage because it reflects what our nonprofit does. We cater to the displaced and down-on-their luck crowd. We show compassion to those who rarely bask in it. That’s what James says we are supposed to do. He reminds us that God said that the poor and meek would inherit the earth. That they’d be lifted up in the end despite their lack of trinkets and toys.
He remarked that it’s usually the ones with the least material that have the most faith. And, from personal experience, I have seen the wealth of faith that the homeless possess despite having little else. God always seems to be welcomed down on the street, but not always up in the penthouse suite.
And speaking of faith, James tells us that it is super great that we have faith and proclaim it. However, a faith proclaimed, but not illustrated, is worthless. He calls it dead. Good deeds fueled by that faith are what matter. Spreading that faith by showing others what it moves you to do is the key.
A barking dog is just that, a barking dog. No bite. No action. No use.
James asks us to be shining beacons of faith if we are going to be so bold as to claim it. And that means caring a little less about the celebrities, the rich, and that which doesn’t compel us to peek our heads behind society’s curtain. Instead we should concern ourselves with the poor, the sick and the homeless. For the poverty-stricken ones of this world we so easily cast a blind eye to because we don’t quite know how to feel about them.
If your heart strings are pulled when seeing someone in a situation less desirable than your own, you’re being pulled in that direction for a reason.