Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
This wonderful text of Scripture makes me think of Charles Spurgeon, the well-known nineteenth-century English pastor. He was raised for a period of time by his grandparents because his own parents were too poor to adequately care for him. Spurgeon’s father was what we would call today a bi-vocational pastor, holding both a pastoral position while at the same time working another job to make a living. Spurgeon’s grandfather had also been a pastor.
Charles never received a college education but was trained in the common manner of village children. The exception to his early training was his godly grandmother who gave him a penny for every hymn text he memorized. This explains why Spurgeon’s sermons are sprinkled with lyrics from many hymns.
At seventeen years of age, though uneducated and untrained theologically, he began preaching to a handful of villagers meeting in a makeshift barn. Within two years, his congregation grew to 400 people.
When he was nineteen, Spurgeon received a surprise invitation to preach in London at the prestigious New Park Street Chapel. Once a great church that seated 1,000 people, less than 100 attended at the time.
When he arrived, he was like a fish out of water. A teenage girl in the congregation later recalled how Spurgeon’s appearance was distracting, if not comical. She wrote that he had “badly trimmed hair, an oversized black satin coat, and a blue handkerchief with white spots in his coat pocket.” This girl would one day become his wife!
In spite of his backward appearance, however, Spurgeon’s message moved the hearts of his listeners. He was asked to return to the chapel as their pastor, and he accepted. Within a few years of ministry, he found himself preaching to 5,000 people every Sunday morning.
James reminds us in this text that God delights to use seemingly insignificant people to accomplish eternally significant things.
This makes sense when we consider that Christ Himself was considered a rather insignificant man: born in a stable, raised in a poor carpenter’s home, physically unattractive (Isaiah 53:2
), and from the obscure village of Nazareth. Jesus was a poor man by worldly standards.
But through the testimony of His life and the lives of His followers, we learn anew that man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7
It doesn’t matter where you grew up or who your family is. It doesn’t matter how attractive, wealthy, strong, or gifted you are. God doesn’t depend on your ability . . . He only asks for availability and then, through you, works His purposes.
James writes that God most often chooses the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of His coming kingdom.
Let’s imitate the young boy who, instead of looking at the impossible size of the crowd, offered to Jesus five loaves and two fish, then left it up to Jesus to determine the breadth and scope of his simple offering.
Give the Savior whatever you have . . . you might be amazed at what He chooses to do with it.
What can you offer Christ today? Whatever it is, pray for humility and strength to offer it for His glory. The opportunities are there; ask for the Lord’s help to see them . . . then take the initiative and act!
Read Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 1
(especially the end of the chapter) where he reminds us that God uses small people for great ministry.
I Pledge Allegiance
As citizens of two kingdoms, Christians face the unique challenge of determining where their allegiance should lie. Do believers pledge allegiance to one nation or to one God above all nations? The Church finds itself in a similar crisis: Is its mission to reform politics or to redeem people?
In this exposition of Romans 13:1-7, Stephen clarifies the believer’s responsibility as a dual citizen of heaven and earth. He also examines the difficult relationship between Church and State, encouraging the Church to focus more on saving Americans than saving America.
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