James: Faith in the Real World
Wk 4, “We are all the Same”
- The Caution-
My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.
“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,
- The Illustration-
For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
- The Explanation-
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? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?
If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.
3 Reasons Why Prejudice and Partiality are not acceptable for those who follow Jesus:
- Theological Reason-
God does not show prejudice or partiality, so neither show we, His children. We are all the same, equal in the eyes of the Lord. If we are all equal in His eyes, what gives us the right to show partiality and prejudice?
- Logical Reason-
James asks two rhetorical questions that tell us quite a bit about the situations the Jewish Christians were in. First, the rich and powerful were persecuting these folks. Second, those same rich people were saying bad things about Jesus. We can read between the lines here and see that the poor were not involved in any of this persecuting going on. So, showing favor to the rich folks and mistreating the poor made no sense.
- Biblical Reason
Finally, James takes the readers back to the scriptures. Leviticus 19:18, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The readers of this letter would have known right away what this passage was. And we also know that Jesus Himself referred to this passage as well. From this we can all learn that the Bible NEVER EVER teaches us to treat one person better than another for any reason at all…
- The Application-
So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.
- Let the Bible, not your habits or your standard for evaluating people instead of what you perceive when you first see them.
- Let love be your Law
- Read James 2: (1-4), As Christians, are we to judge? If so, what are the guidelines around it, if not what is the process for when someone is doing something clearly unscriptural? Is it possible to avoid “pre judging”?
- Read Acts 10:34, what does it mean that God shows no partiality/favoritism? How can we model this in our own lives?
- What are some issues with judging by appearance? How was Jesus judged by those around him that did not know Him personally?
- Read James 2: (5-13) who is your neighbor? How do we love our neighbor as ourself? Why would favoring one neighbor over another be considered sin/conflict with Jesus’ message?
- How do we evaluate people through a biblical lens?
- Read Romans 3: (21-23), what is God’s standard for righteousness? What group has every person ever born joined? If we’re all in the same boat, why do we have a natural instinct to make divisions?
- As followers of Christ is it possible to live detached from the Law? How can we approach those who may seem so much different than us with the Gospel message? Are they really that much different than us?
- Continue to pray for the church, our country, and for all those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus.