Summary: God see all believers the same - we should not show favortism to the people that can give us an advantage.
This morning we are still looking at topics related to a “faith that works” from the book of James. As I was looking at the scripture I thought about teachers pets in elementary school.
Were any of you considered a teachers pet???
One of those favorite students that got to take notes to the office, lead the lunch line, do special little things for the teacher while the rest of the class slaved away on the class work. Perhaps you are suspecting that I had a problem with teachers’ pets.
I can’t say I had a direct problem with the students….perhaps some hard feelings, perhaps envy, perhaps a little attack of the “that’s unfairs!”
Now that I am older, I realize a little better that as an average and even struggling student, I did not meet the criteria that most teachers have when choosing a student for special jobs….
I rarely finished with my work early.
I had a tendency to talk too much.
I was not the neatest worker in the class. I am easily distracted……
Unfortunately; all those same things seem to be character flaws I struggle with today.
So far, James is talking to Jewish believers that live in exile talked about how faith works and how it can help them to get through the persecution that they are facing in their time. James is not a prosperity Gospel teacher like we find on TV today. He flat out tells us that bad times will come…So while his message is direct and lacks empty encouragement the information is also proven to be real truth in the facts.
He started with a hard idea, that believers should be joyful in all their trials, not because of or for the trials but because in those dark and hard times we will realize that no matter how it feels, we don face them alone and when they pass our faith will be stronger and grow because of the knowledge that God will provide. Not a concept that makes us excited about our faith but, knowledge that is proven to be truth with time.
Last week we heard him be the first person on record to quote the Nike add and say “Just do it!” As he encouraged Quick to listen, Slow to speak and Slow to anger and visible signs of faith….If we follow that simple concept we will demonstrate a special wisdom. Wisdom helps us keep our relationships with family, friends and community on an even keel. We won’t be known as hotheads or uncaring oafs because we won’t just blurt out what ever comes to the top of our minds.
It seems that James saw the tendency to put our feet in our mouths and spout anger was some how a common thing even way back then. But the most important part of last week’s reading was that James said that we are to hear the word and respond. Let the word of God in scripture, conversation and prayer be a mirror that shows you who and whose you are and to live with and improve the image that God has placed in you at creation.
This mornings scripture opens with:
“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.”
The word translated “favoritism” comes from two words—”to receive” and “face.” “To receive by face” is to evaluate a person on the basis of surface characteristics. James warns, “Don’t just look at a person’s face, or outward appearance. Don’t be biased in your judgment by clothing, wealth, or position!”
Today James points out a problem of how people back then showed favoritism.
He gives an example. Two guests come to church on the Sabbath. One drives up in a new Mercedes and is wearing a Rolex, has a super bowl ring on his finger and a suit that is obviously tailored just for him. Right behind him is a guy that pulls up in a beat up KIA, and he is wearing something that was once a part of the Kmart collection now stained with a hole in the knee.
In James’ day they would have offered a seat near the front near the box that held copies of scripture. In the synagogue, they often invited a guest to read and expound on scripture.
Today if we offer a better seat, it would probably be one of those choice back row places. If any of us speaks to the man at all we might make a special effort to introduce just one or the other of the two guests to the pastor. We may invite one of the men to sit with us and allow the other to figure out where to sit on their own.
But, if we treat the two men differently in any way….we are showing favoritism.