Scriptural Manna: Poor people and rich people

Photo by Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World

Editor’s note: Bread Blog is running a year-long series exploring passages from The Poverty & Justice Bible published by the American Bible Society (Contemporary English Version). The intent is a theological exploration at the intersection of social justice and religion. The blog posts will be written by members of the church relations staff at Bread for the World.

“Any of God’s people who are poor should be glad that he thinks so highly of them. But any who are rich should be glad when God makes them humble.  Rich people will disappear like wild flowers scorched by the burning heat of the sun.  The flowers lose their blossoms, and their beauty is destroyed.  That is how the rich will disappear, as they go about their business.”  (James 1: 9-11)

By Marco A. Grimaldo

Throughout the Gospels and in the Epistles, we read stark distinctions between the things of this world and those of God’s realm.  Most of us know Jesus’ admonition “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven.” But does Jesus really mean that people with money and resources will never find salvation? 

Maybe there is more to it than that.  Perhaps the fine line to be drawn, the crooked path to be walked, is that regardless of whether we have wealth or live in poverty, we must cherish love, compassion, and humility more than money, status, and privilege.  Maybe that is just more difficult for anyone with wealth – it’s easier to prize humility when you seemingly have little to lose.

Don’t misunderstand me, being poor is hard work.  I’ve walked miles to buy the one can of green beans that was on sale so I could make budget. And it’s not easy in a city where the buses don’t always run on time.  Being poor is a burden that affects children especially. But I think what God is saying is that rich people have the added responsibility to invest in things that glorify God.

So whether you are wealthy or struggling financially, God’s message is the same.  Stay focused on God and on our sisters and brothers more than on anything we own. The things of this world will disappear, but God’s steadfast love endures forever.

Marco A. Grimaldo is the senior national associate for Latino engagement at Bread for the World.

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