Hath not God chosen the poor of this world - This seems to refer to Matthew 11:5; : And the poor have the Gospel preached to them. These believed on the Lord Jesus, and found his salvation; while the rich despised, neglected, and persecuted him. These had that faith in Christ which put them in possession of the choicest spiritual blessings, and gave them a right to the kingdom of heaven. While, therefore, they were despised of men, they were highly prized of God.
Hearken, my beloved brethren - The apostle now proceeds to show that the rich, as such, had no special claim on their favor, and that the poor in fact might be made more entitled to esteem than they were. For a view of the arguments by which he does this, compare the analysis of the chapter.
Hath not God chosen the poor of this world? - Those who are poor so far as this world is concerned, or those who have not wealth. This is the first argument which the apostle suggests why the poor should not be treated with neglect. It is, that God has had special reference to them in choosing those who should be his children. The meaning is not that he is not as willing to save the rich as the poor, for he has no partiality; but that there are circumstances in the condition of the poor which make it more likely that they will embrace the offers of the gospel than the rich; and that in fact the great mass of believers is taken from those who are in comparatively humble life. Compare the notes at 1 Corinthians 1:26-28. The fact that God has chosen one to be an “heir of the kingdom” is as good a reason now why he should not be treated with neglect, as it was in the times of the apostles.
Rich in faith - Though poor in this world‘s goods, they are rich in a higher and more important sense. They have faith in God their Saviour; and in this world of trial and of sin, that is a more valuable possession than piles of hoarded silver or gold. A man who has that is sure that he will have all that is truly needful for him in this world and the next; a man who has it not, though he may have the wealth of Croesus, will be utterly without resources in respect to the great wants of his existence.
“Give what thou wilt, without thee we are poor;
And with thee rich, take what thou wilt away.”
Faith in God the Saviour will answer more purposes, and accomplish more valuable ends for man, than the wealth of the Indies could: and this the poor may have as well as the rich. Compare Revelation 2:9.
And heirs of the kingdom - Margin, “that.” Compare the notes at Matthew 5:3.
Ministers should not use flattery or be respecters of persons. There ever has been, and still is, great danger of erring here, of making a little difference with the wealthy, or flattering them by special attention, if not by words. There is danger of “having men's persons in admiration” for the sake of gain, but in doing this their eternal interests are endangered. The minister may be the special favorite of some wealthy man, and he may be very liberal with him; this gratifies the minister, and he in turn lavishes praise upon the benevolence of his donor. His name may be exalted by appearing in print, and yet that liberal donor may be entirely unworthy of the credit given him. His liberality did not arise from a deep, living principle to do good with his means, to advance the cause of God because he appreciated it, but from some selfish motive, a desire to be thought liberal. He may have given from impulse and his liberality have no depth of principle. He may have been moved upon by listening to stirring truth which for the time being loosed his purse strings; yet, after all, his liberality has no deeper motive. He gives by spasms; his purse opens spasmodically and closes just as securely spasmodically. He deserves no commendation, for he is in every sense of the word a stingy man, and unless thoroughly converted, purse and all, will hear the withering denunciation: “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.” Such will awake at last from a horrible self-deception. Those who praised their spasmodic liberalities helped Satan to deceive them and make them think that they were very liberal, very sacrificing, when they knew not the first principles of liberality or self-sacrifice. 1T 475.1
Some men and women make themselves believe that they do not consider the things of this world of much value, but prize the truth and its advancement higher than any worldly gain. Many will awake at last to find that they have been deceived. They may have once appreciated the truth, and earthly treasures in comparison with truth may have appeared to them valueless; but after a time, as their worldly treasure increased, they became less devotional. Although they have enough for a comfortable sustenance, yet all their acts show that they are in nowise satisfied. Their works testify that their hearts are bound up in their earthly treasure. Gain, gain, is their watchword. To this end every member of the family participates in their labor. They give themselves scarcely any time for devotion or for prayer. They work early and late. Sickly, diseased women and feeble children whip up their flagging ambition and use up the vitality and strength they have to reach an object, to gain a little, make a little more money. They flatter themselves that they are doing this that they may help the cause of God. Terrible deception! Satan looks on and laughs for he knows that they are selling soul and body through their lust for gain. They are continually making flimsy excuses for thus selling themselves for gain. They are blinded by the god of this world. Christ has bought them by His own blood; but they rob Christ, rob God, tear themselves to pieces, and are almost useless in society. 1T 476.1
They devote but little time to the improvement of the mind, and but little time to social or domestic enjoyment. They are of but little benefit to anyone. Their lives are a terrible mistake. Those who thus abuse themselves feel that their course of unremitting labor is praiseworthy. They are destroying themselves by their presumptuous labor. They are marring the temple of God by continually violating the laws of their being through excessive labor, and yet they think it a virtue. When God calls them to account, when He requires of them the talents He has lent them, with usury, what can they say? What excuse can they make? Were they heathen who know nothing of the living God, and in their blind idolatrous zeal throw themselves under the car of Juggernaut, their cases would be more tolerable. But they had the light, they had warning upon warning to preserve their bodies, which God calls His temple, in as healthy a condition as possible that they might glorify Him in their bodies and spirits, which are His. The teachings of Christ they disregarded: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” They let worldly cares entangle them. “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” They worship their earthly treasure, as the ignorant heathen does his idols. 1T 476.2Read in context »
The managers of the sanitarium should not be governed by the principles which control other institutions of this kind, in which the leaders acting from policy, too often pay deference to the wealthy, while the poor are neglected. The latter are frequently in great need of sympathy and counsel, which they do not always receive, although for moral worth they may stand far higher in the estimation of God than the more wealthy. The apostle James has given definite counsel with regard to the manner in which we should treat the rich and the poor: 4T 550.1
“For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him?” 4T 550.2Read in context »
South Lancaster, Massachusetts,
October 16, 1890Read in context »
If the rush of work is allowed to drive us from our purpose of seeking the Lord daily, we shall make the greatest mistakes; we shall incur losses, for the Lord is not with us; we have closed the door so that He cannot find access to our souls. But if we pray even when our hands are employed, the Saviour's ear is open to hear our petitions. If we are determined not to be separated from the Source of our strength, Jesus will be just as determined to be at our right hand to help us, that we may not be put to shame before our enemies. The grace of Christ can accomplish for us that which all our efforts will fail to do. Those who love and fear God may be surrounded with a multitude of cares, and yet not falter or make crooked paths for their feet. God takes care of you in the place where it is your duty to be. But be sure, as often as possible, to go where prayer is wont to be made. The Saviour says, “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy.” Revelation 3:4. These souls overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. Amid the moral pollution that prevailed on every hand, they held fast their integrity. And why? They were partakers of the divine nature, and thus they escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. They became rich in faith, heirs to an inheritance of more value than the gold of Ophir. Only a life of constant dependence upon the Saviour is a life of holiness. CH 424.1Read in context »