Summary: This sermon deals with how we see and treat others, even in the church.
James 2:1-13 "Favoritism Forbidden"
By Pastor Mark Hiehle
In our society today, we like to think of ourselves as open-minded and fair. We pride ourselves in believing that we look past externals and avoid making personal judgments of others. Unfortunately, this is not usually true, even in the church. One of the biggest problems in the church today is how leaders are chosen. When it comes time to elect leaders in the church, we follow the ways of the world and look at what the world looks at to our shame.
I came across a letter that could have been written, if Jesus chose those first disciples, the way we do it today. Today, we like to have personality tests given and profiles taken to determine the potential of possible employees and leaders. This fictional letter is a response to the profiles that Jesus could have administered to the 12 potential disciples.
Jesus, Son of Joseph
Woodcrafter Carpenter Shop
Thank you for submitting the resumes of the 12 men you have picked for managerial positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken the battery of tests and we have run them through our computers. It is the staffs’ opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, educational and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would suggest that you continue your search for persons with experience and proven capability. Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has no leadership skills at all. The 2 brothers, James and John, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel that it is our duty to inform you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau. James the son of Alphaeus and Thaddaeus have radical leanings and registered high manic-depressive scores.
Only one of the candidates shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness who meets people well and has a keen business mind. He has contacts in high places and is highly motivated, ambitious and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man.
We wish you every success in your new venture.
Jordan Management Consultants
Isn’t that just the way it is today? We look at people by what they have and how they can help us and that is the way of the world. James tells us in Chapter 2 verse 1 that we are not to show favoritism. That means that we are not to look at one person over another because of what they have or how they can benefit us. To set his point firmly in the minds of the church, he lays before us a picture of a worship service. Today, if a rich man entered the service and a poor man followed, who would you be more excited to see? Now, in your heart of hearts, be honest with yourselves. If you saw the first man drive up in a Lexus, have on a shiny suit and jewelry, would you think to yourself, "Wouldn’t it be great if he would pick our church to attend?" My friends, that is favoritism. Considering one person of greater value over another is wrong. The truth is that God does not need the rich man’s money and the church should not seek it either.
When leaders are chosen, the last thing that should be looked at is their bank account or public influence. Leaders in God’s church should be considered because of their heart for God, their commitment to Him and their servanthood to others. In fact, as I heard another preacher say, "The church is not privileged to have wealthy parishioners, the rich are privileged to be allowed to be part of God’s family." As we look at the battles we face today, is it not the rich who are usually the worst enemies of God and His church in the court system and in the schools plus entertainment fields? Therefore, don’t show favoritism James tells us, for this is sin. Let us see people as Jesus sees them, and may we have the mind of Christ.
Verse 10 is a very sobering truth. Many people like to think that there
are different levels of sin. As though one sin is not as bad as another. There is no such thing as a little white lie according to scripture. A lie is a lie. The Spirit is saying through James that all sin is the same. An analogy I once heard described sin like a chain. Imagine you were hanging high above the ground by holding onto a chain. The chain is made up of interlocking links. If one link breaks, you fall and die. It doesn’t matter which link breaks, the result is the same - death. So it is with sin. God is telling us that as He sees sin, if you break the law at any point, you are a law breaker. If you steal, kill or simply tell a lie, they are all the same. Sin is sin. Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount that if we call someone a "Fool," it was the same as murder, for we are attacking a person’s worth. Have you ever verbally attacked someone for pulling out in front of you on the highway? Some of us this morning are serial killers. One sin is not worse than another, all sin leads to death. If it would not be for God’s mercy, we would all be condemned. Thankfully, because of God’s love for us, Jesus took our sin upon himself and we can be forgiven. Have you been forgiven? Praise be to God who says, "Mercy triumphs over judgment."