What Does James 2:5 Mean?

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?

James 2:5(ESV)

Verse Thoughts

There is no partiality with God, for He is equally desirous to save the rich as the poor, the female as the male, the Gentile as the Jew, the old as the young. While the impartiality of God is perfect, it proves very easy for imperfect man to demonstrate a human preference towards people we consider well-to-do. The fleshly nature of man finds it easy to be biased in favour of those who are nice towards us, especially if they are wealthy and show generosity towards us! But the book of James makes it very clear that God is no respecter of persons.

While God shows no favouritism between rich and poor, because salvation is a free gift of grace to whosoever will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, James does seem to imply that God extends special favour towards those that are poor, in respect of the riches of this world: "Listen, my beloved brothers," he writes, "has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?" How could this be? 

How can it be that God has chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith, when James clearly teaches that God does not demonstrate bias or favouritism towards any of His creatures? Could it not be argued that if God has chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and become heirs of the kingdom, that He is demonstrating bias towards the poor of the world?

Well, it is not that God favours poor people by making them rich in faith, but He knows that the riches of this world can become an obstacle to faith, because the wealthy man too often places his hope in his bank balance or trusts in his wealth to get him out of difficult circumstances, instead of relying on the Lord to provide what is needed according to His riches in glory.

God also knows that a poor man living in needy circumstances, a destitute widow without hope in the world, or a penniless orphan, is much more likely to grasp hold of God's great gift of salvation which is given freely to all, rather than a self-sufficient, affluent man, whose super-abundance of material possessions and worldly wealth renders him independent of God's provision and can even cause him to become disdainful of God's free gift of salvation.

The poor man or the poverty-stricken widow does not have the material means to cling to in times of financial hardship or during an economic downturn, in the same way that a wealthy merchant or prosperous landowner is able to turn to their personal resources when times are hard. Poor, poverty-stricken people more ready to respond to the gospel of grace with an open heart, ready acceptance, and trusting faith, than prosperous persons who too often find difficulty in casting all their cares on Christ - preferring to centre their hope on cryptocurrencies, commodity markets, and their capital assets.

God knows that those that trust Him and believe His Word are truly rich – for the outcome of believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is forgiveness of sins, peace with God, a new life in Christ, the indwelling Comforter, joint-heirship in Christ's coming kingdom, and a glorious and eternal heavenly home, among a multitude of wonderful blessings that are showered on all who are rich in faith by trusting His Word.

As we consider the disciples of Christ's day and the multitudes of saints that have trusted in Jesus down through centuries of time, it is clear that not many mighty men and not many wealthy nobles become followers of Christ and heirs of the kingdom. Most of those who put their faith in Jesus and trusted Him for salvation, were simple folk with few earthy possessions - and yet the testimony they leave behind is a wealth of faith in Christ because they loved Him and discovered His grace to be sufficient and His strength to be made perfect, as He lived in them and they abode in Him.

Too often, the world's opinion of riches is bound up in the baubles of this world that will one day be burned up, but let us pay heed a truth that has stood the test of time - God has chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, and this is a promise which holds true for all who love him.

My Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for my salvation and the many wonderful promises that I have received by grace, simply because I trusted Jesus. Thank You that though I can be poor in material things, I can be rich in faith. May I be reminded that riches are sometimes even an obstacle to my faith. Keep my heart humble before you and full of love for You. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

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