Summary: There is no room for favoritism or partiality in the church today and James in Chapter 2, shows us how we can make sure it doesn’t surface in our life or church.
Are You a Christian Snob?
Let me open tonight by asking you a question, “Are you a Christian Snob?” Before you answer that question too quickly ask yourself this, “Who, outside of your present circle of friends, have you attempted to include in your life recently?” Almost all of us walk around with an unpublished list in our minds of desirable and undesirable people. Some prefer to be around educated folks and look down at those who are not academic enough. Some of us would rather spend time with young people and do not have time for the aged. Some have race or ethnic groups that we would rather not associate with. Most of us want to be around people just like we are, or want to be.
But, how can we refuse to accept and associate with one whom God has received? How can we exclude someone from our lives that God has called into the family of believers?
This is not a new problem, however, it is as old as Christianity itself. James here in our text today see this problem and brings it into the light. So let’s take a look at what James has to say about this issue.
I. There is a Principle to Remember (v. 1)
• The principle is partiality.
o Partially means “respect of persons” and is mentioned several times in the New Testament.
o But in every other case the subject of the verse is god and it is expressed negatively.
o “God does not show partiality” (Acts 10:34)
• There are a number of ways that we tend to show favoritism in the church today.
o We can favor people based on their gifts and abilities.
o Who is the most important, the preacher of the sound man?
The deacon or the Sunday School teacher?
The nursery worker or the greeter?
The truth is that one is not better than the other, they are just using different gifts.
o We can show favoritism on the basis of personality, or looks, or economic standing.
But none of that has any place in the church.
The basis of Christian action and attitude according the God’s Word is “faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ”.
• What James is telling us here is not to profess faith in Christ and at the same time be a spiritual snob.
o Don’t join some little clique in the church.
o Every believer in the church is part of the body of Christ.
o Those whom he has deemed worthy to receive we should be careful about not avoiding.
o But not only is there a principle to remember there is…
II. There is a Problem to Remedy (vv. 2-4)
• Although these verses serve as a illustration for us, this type of scene places itself out everyday in churches.
Here is a modern day illustration for you that took place back in the 80’s. One Sunday in the Presbyterian Church: When in attendance Ronald Reagan and Nancy usually sat in the same seats just off the center about 2/3 of the way back into the sanctuary. On this particular morning the president was late and by the time he got there, two college students had occupied those seats. An usher came down the aisle and asked the students if they would take different seats off to the side. They moved and President Reagan and Nancy were brought in and seated. To his credit the pastor got up from his place on the platform, walked down and over to the college students and said, “As long as I am pastor of this church, that will never happen again.”
• In v. 4, we find the Lord’s thoughts on this situation, “have you not made distinction among yourselves and become judges with evil motives?”
• If a judge in a court of law were to allow himself to be affected by the clothing of the defendant, would he not be violating justice?
• Just so for a Christian to accept or reject someone on the basis of this outward appearance is no less wrong.
• So not only is there a problem to remedy…
III. There is a Perspective to Adopt (vv. 5-11)
• In v. 5, James invited us to adopt a new perspective.
• He does so by presenting three reasons why favoritism is wrong.
1. It is Wrong because it is Inconsistent with God’s Methods (v. 5)
• God’s method of choosing has always been grace, and not on anything we are, have, or ever will have.
2. It is Wrong because it is Inappropriate given the conduct of the rich (vv. 6-7)
• James makes his point by asking a series of three questions here: