I believe that these two terms are relative terms. I know people who are wealthy (aka rich), but who are poor in spirit. They are miserable. Their wealth did not lift their spirits at all. I also know people who are on the poverty line who are full of joy and peace. They would probably like to have more money, but they find joy in the little things of life. For some reason, it seems that our culture gravitates to the wealthy instead of the poor. I believe it’s because we think the rich will share their wealth, while the poor have very little excess to share with anyone. I came across a passage in James and it hit me that I really do show favoritism to the rich. Check this out…
1My brothers and sisters, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. 2 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, 3 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,” 4 haven’t you made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Didn’t God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? (James 2:1-5 CSB)
People who are wealthy know lots of others who are wealthy. They also know others who have more money than they have. Poor people know others who are poor and especially the ones who have less money than them. I see money as a medium. It doesn’t do anything except what it’s told to do. It’s like planting seed in the soil – whatever seed is planted is what comes up. The soil was a medium. It can grow kudzu or it can grow grass.
I felt deep conviction after reading this today, because I find myself passing judgement on others based on how they carry themselves, how they dress, the type of car they have or how nice of a house they live in. This is a dangerous behavior. James goes on to say that this is “straight up” sin. I am passing judgement on someone’s worth based on their bank account rather than their heart.
The Lord is way more concerned with my heart and my obedience than the size of my bank accounts. In fact, I believe the Lord is drawn to the poor – Jesus was born to a Carpenter (blue collar) and visited by shepherds (blue collar) and wise men (white collar). Look at the disciples that Jesus called to serve alongside Him…. They were fishermen, tax collectors – very ordinary people who I would contend didn’t have a lot of material possessions or money.
I want to be wealthy in spiritual values. When I’m blessed with material wealth, I want to invest it in His Kingdom and people made in the image of God. I’m seeing forgiveness when I’ve made my life about me.