James 2:5 – RICH HEIRS OF THE KINGDOM
Imagine that you were giving a presentation to a group of one hundred people. In your message, you tell them that if they will follow the simple, free guidelines which you will share with them, then each one of them can become the wealthy heirs of a king. You assure them that you are not joking, that it really can happen and it will happen, guaranteed, if they carry out the instructions that you will give to them. Do you think there would be at least a couple of people in that gathering who would be interested in what you have to offer them? No doubt. I think there would be a whole lot more than a couple of folks interested in being a king’s heir, don’t you?
Well, the God of heaven has not made a promise about inheriting earthly wealth from an earthly king, but He has given us a great promise about being rich heirs of a kingdom. Here are the words of James 2:5: “Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”
What is the context of this wonderful promise from God? In the first nine verses of this chapter, James is instructing the brethren about the need for God’s people to treat others without partiality. If anyone among them was tempted to treat any wealthy people with great respect and kindness, but at the same time show contempt and disrespect for any poorer people who came into their assembly, then they needed to be reminded of this truth: God has chosen the poor of this world to be heirs of His kingdom (2:5). That does not mean, of course, that the Lord forbids the prosperous people of the world to obey the gospel. Yet, the reality that has been seen throughout history is this: among the “wealthy and privileged” folks of the world, not many render obedience to the Lord and stay faithful to Him.
Now let us go back to the promise of James 2:5 and look at four aspects of it. These are exciting matters! What does James say about those who will receive what God has promised?
- “Chosen” – Those who will receive the fulfillment of God’s promise are those whom He has chosen. For what has He chosen them? Salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13). Where Has He chosen them? In the Christ (Ephesians 1:4). How does He choose them? He calls all people through the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14), and those who respond by believing and obeying it are added to the Lord, that is, are made a part of God’s chosen people (Acts 5:14; 2:47). Again, the door to God’s family is open to all, rich and poor, but only those who choose to submit to Jesus can have their sins forgiven and become part of God’s elect. It is much more common to see the poorer ones of this world make such a soul-rescuing decision.
- “Rich in faith” – While the world goesclamoring after material, “uncertain riches” (1 Timothy 6:17), those who are God-fearing pursue the wise goal of being rich in faith. A person who is rich in faith is one who puts his/her trust in God, lives by faith, and is blessed in return with a wealth of spiritual blessings in Jesus (Ephesians 1:3). Our Lord said that the saints in Smyrna were in poverty, but were rich at the same time (Revelation 2:8,9). Materially speaking, they were at poverty level; spiritual speaking, though, they were blessed in great abundance. Regardless of our financial status, each one of us can be rich in faith.
- “Heirs of the kingdom” – As God’s children, we are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). By His grace, God allows you and me to be joint heirs with Jesus. Is that not encouraging?! As Jesus said, we will “inherit the kingdom prepared” for us from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34). Of which kingdom will we be the heirs? Since Christians already are in God’s church in this life, then the promised kingdom must be “His heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18), that is, heaven itself, where our inheritance is reserved for us – an inheritance that is incorruptible,undefiled, and does not fade away (1 Peter 1:4).
- “Those who love Him” – To whom is entrance into the kingdom promised? The James 2:5 answer is that the kingdom is for those who are its heirs: the heirs are those people who are (1) God’s chosen, (2) rich in faith, and (3) love God.
This is not the first time in the book of James that we read about a wonderful blessing being promised to those who love the Lord. Here in James 2:5, the kingdom is promised to those who love Him. Back in James 1:12, we learn that to “those who love Him,” God promises the crown of life.
What moves us to love the God of heaven? We readily admit, “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). As Paul wrote, “. . . the love of Christ compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). Because of our gratitude for what Jesus has done for us, we ought to love Him more than anything or anyone (Matthew 10:37). Our love for the Lord causes us to submit to His desires, like Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word . . .” (John 14:23).
Let us bow humbly before God, praise Him for His goodness, and thank Him for allowing us to be rich heirs of His eternal Kingdom. How fantastic! In view of God’s promises, we should sleep well tonight.
— Roger D. Campbell