NBC Sunday School Manual For February 19, 2023 :Topic – The ich And The Poor
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SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON FOR YOUR PREPARATION
NBC SUNDAY SCHOOL OUTLINE
Theme of the Month: GOD’S CALL AND ITS RESPONSIBILITIES.
DATE: SUNDAY, 19TH FEBRUARY, 2023.
TOPIC: THE RICH AND THE POOR.
Devotional Reading: Amos 5:7-15.
“Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” James 2:5.
By the end of the lesson, class members should be able to:
● Identify ways in which favouritism affects the lives of the poor in our churches and society, today;
● State reasons why they should treat everyone equally, tribe, gender or class notwithstanding;
● Resolve not to show favouritism, whether at home, in the church or community because God abhors it.
It is not uncommon these days to see factions in the church, based on social, tribal, educational and cultural differences. Because of the new trend, people are treated according to the group they belong. Sometime ago, a couple shared their bitter experience at the wedding reception of their relative. According to them, they were despised and not recognised merely because of their simple outfit. To make matters worse, they were not entertained because different entre people had been assigned to serve the different groups with their matching (aso-ebi) outfit. The father of the groom who was their relative, deliberately did not introduce them as his family members probably for fear of losing respect before his in-laws. People were served food and drinks, based on the class they belonged with no one to attend to them, even to offer them seats. The couple felt neglected, despite the risk they had taken to travel from a far distance to attend the ceremony. Have you ever been treated in such a manner, whether in a church or at a party? What advice do you have for this couple, considering James’ warning against showing favouritism?
There is a high level of discrimination in the society, the church inclusive. Experience has shown that sometimes, when visitors come to our churches we tend to judge them by their outward appearances and offer them seats as they deserve rather than who they really are on the inside. While some people are treated with courtesy because of their wealth, fame, and position, some others are neglected because they are poor and have nothing to offer. Such people will definitely feel unloved and either leave the church or begin to speak ill of the church. The focus of today’s lesson is James’ warning against showing favouritism toward one another. The warning is so important that Jesus also warned the religious leaders saying, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly” (John 7:24).
THE LESSON EXPLAINED…
A. WARNING AGAINST DISCRIMINATION:
James carefully addressed the matter of discrimination, which was apparently widespread in his days and in our churches today. Obviously, there were some people who coveted recognition and honour (probably because of their status) in the church that necessitated such warning as: “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favouritism.” (v. 1) They forgot that the Mosaic Law prohibits discrimination against the poor and foreigners as well as special recognition for the rich (Leviticus 19:15). He gave example of the rich and the poor coming into the church and the different treatment they received (vv. 2-3). Even Jesus’ parable dealt with such problems of partiality and prejudice thus He condemned the Pharisees (Matthew 23).
It is sad to note that in some churches, there are cliques and factions, which are sometimes based on tribal, professional, financial status or some other common interests. Where such exist, there is bound to be discrimination against one another; and very often, new converts will find it difficult to remain in the church. In addition, some Christians have the natural tendency to play up to those who are regarded as social superiors and despise those who are less privileged. Christians should not discriminate against the so-called poor in our midst because they are part of God’s family. We are expected to treat everyone with respect, regardless of their financial status, race, intellectual and financial abilities. When we fail to do so, we will be guilty of breaking one of God’s greatest commandments (Mark 12:28-31). Jesus did not look at the outward appearance while relating with people around Him. In fact, showing favouritism toward the rich, at the expense of the poor displeases God and brings division to the body of Christ, which Christ earnestly prayed for to be one (John 17:11).
1. Mention some of the ways we discriminate in the church. Discuss a situation in which you were discriminated against and how you felt.
2. Based on today’s lesson, what steps would you take to avoid the temptation of honouring the rich and looking down on the poor in your church?
B.🎈 THE FORTUNE OF THE POOR:
The problem of discrimination against the poor in the community of faith was the order of the day. James observed two major things about the people:
● They despised the poor for the sake of the rich who probably are not Christians, whereas the rich were exploiting and dragging them to court.
● The rich have dragged them to court and slandered the name of the Lord. The implication, according to James, is that it is unreasonable to render special recognition to the rich. Consequently, he reminded the people that God has high regards for those they considered poor by the world’s standard (v. 5). Although poverty is not a guarantee that one will make heaven but the fact remains that the poor who have become rich in the faith, as children of God, would inherit the kingdom. The grace of God has made the poor rich because of their inheritance of the grace in Christ (James 1:9-11; 1 Corinthians 1:26-27). After all, God has poured forth His grace on the rich as well as the poor. However, His desire is that the rich would grow to spiritual maturity – be meek and humble and not usurp the opportunity they have. Therefore, based on the doctrine of God’s grace, we are expected to relate with people on the basis of God’s plan and not by merit or social status.
1. Discuss the consequences of relating with people based on what they have rather than who they really are in the Lord.
2. Apart from dragging the poor to court and looking down on them, what are some other ways the rich discriminate against the poor in our contemporary time, and its effects in the church?
C.🎈 ENCOURAGEMENT TO OBEY THE LAW:
Having described the rich inheritance of the poor in Christ Jesus, James went on to encourage the people to do the right thing by obeying the law. As stated in the Scripture, “… but love your neighbour as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18b) This is in accordance with the principles of Torah that forbids a judge from discriminating between the rich and the poor (Leviticus 19:15). James stressed the importance of the royal law of love, which is further stressed in verses 10-11 thus, “Whoever breaks one of the commandment is guilty of breaking them all….” This is an indication that James quite understood that Jewish laws were extremely difficult, if not impossible, to keep. Thus, he emphasised the need to practise what we preach. He said, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom.” (v. 12) In other words, the people were encouraged to watch their words and actions, with final judgment in view. Jesus alluded to this when He said that we will all give account of our words, acts and attitudes on the judgment day (Matthew 12:36).
James’ words of encouragement to obey the law to love one another is applicable to contemporary believers. We must work hard not to break any of the laws because that would mean breaking the whole law. James understood this principle and, therefore, encouraged equality and impartiality by explaining what loving one’s neighbour means. The love for God and for one’s neighbour is disobeyed wherever the practice of prejudice is found; hence the Bible says, “… if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressor.” Loving others is not optional for Christians because it is one of the ways to prevent discrimination in the body of Christ and avoid being violators of the law (James 2:9).
1. Discuss the lifestyle you will adopt in order to avoid the exploitation of the poor around us.
2. What measures should believers take so that our words will always match our actions, according to verse 12?
📌Fellowship and Ministry Building Activity:
● Let a class member share a practical example of how he/she was despised merely because of his/her poor outfit and how he/she felt. Pray that God will help believers not to show favouritism, for whatever reason.
📌 Take Home: State at least three main lessons you are taking home, based on today’s lesson:
📌Commitment: Make a commitment not to show favouritism because God hates it.
Remain Inspired & Be Lifted