Summary: We have become comfortable with it, even in church, but the roots of this sinful attitude and behavior are deep in our hearts. We need to dig it up!
Passage: James 2:1-13
Intro: When a behavior or attitude becomes the norm in a society, it becomes very easy as Christians to embrace it as our own.
1. and this is especially true when the socially acceptable attitude is one that we believe ourselves.
2. there are certain things that just seem right, don’t they?
Il) materialism and upward mobility, we call it “the American Dream”
3. but sometimes our bubble of comfort is popped, and the Word of God is often the popper.
Il) in your bulletin today, there is a story about a German pastor who has been jailed for speaking out against abortion in his country. He has dared to speak a sinful behavior normalized by the government and the people.
4. James in this passage addresses one of the classic “Christian sins” of his day and ours.
5. it is one that is so prevalent in our society, and in the church, that we have to come to just accept it.
6. like gossip or slander or pragmatism or being like the world.
7. this is a sin that even the best church-going, Bible reading, Sunday School teaching, pulpit-pounding, tithing Christian engages in, and feel good about it!
I. Why Favoritism is Wrong
1. have you noticed that James is a little blunt?
2. v1, believers are not to “show favoritism”
3. verb tense means “stop showing favoritism”
4. and v6 tells us it had been going on for a while, past tense, “have insulted”
5. word “favoritism”=”to receive a face” outward appearance
7. v4 adds idea of “making a judgment between two people” based on outward appearances.
Il) Miss America pageant
8. James quickly launches into an example, a hypothetical.
PP Show picture of two guys, split screen, describing the situation. These people walk into church
9. the choice is so simple, but so wrong. Why?
10. we are applying the wrong values
11. v 4 , we have made a distinction based on physical things, outward things we are attracted to: v3
12. we are exhibiting the value system of the world, attracted to power, status, physical beauty.
13. why do we do this? Because ultimately our goal is selfish.
14. rich person will bring $, poor person will want $
15. rich people draw other rich people, gain prestige.
Il) most pastors would love a professional athlete in our church. Free tickets, maybe get to be team chaplain!
16. our excitement about the rich person walking in has to do with what they might do for us.
17. the poor man will take from us, bring our self-image down
18. favoritism is wrong because it is based in selfishness in the worlds system
19. and it is so prevalent that it actually prevents people from hearing the gospel from a real person.
Il) Gandhi story of rejection at church
II. The Example of God
1. the example of God is small in this passage, but huge in the Bible.
2. v5, God chose the poor to be rich…
3. careful not to make poverty a virtue that caused God to chose the poor.
4. rather, God sees all people, rich and poor, in their state of spiritual death.
5. he is not fooled by rings or fine clothes, by dirt or rags.
PP Acts 10:34
6. God sees people in need of grace to free them from sin.
7. the poor, however, are often more aware of their need because they experience the results of sin even more.
8. wealth and status temporarily protects a person from some of the results of the Fall.
9. afford better health care, job more pleasant and comfortable, shielded from heat, cars that don’t always break down, unpleasantness of all kinds.
10. vv6-7 as far as spiritual things go, he pursues power, abuses others, and ultimately blasphemes Jesus. How?
11. Jesus had a lot to say about the world’s value system.
PP Matthew 6:24
12. but the man consumed by wealth rejects the testimony of Jesus about $, and about salvation.
13. his approach is polar opposite to God’s, and at that point we have a choice.
14. we follow the example of God, who is rich in grace and mercy; who responds to need, who gives without limit and saves the helpless.
15. or we buy in to the world, using each other and discriminating who gets to hear the gospel from us based on what they can do for us.
16. we don’t mind if someone else shares it with them, but we prefer to keep our distance.
17. aren’t you glad that’s not the way God felt about you?
III. The Practical Antidote for the Sin of Favoritism
1. the antidote is, like usual, the stopping of one action and the beginning of another.