Summary: Showing partiality to the rich not only violates the 2nd commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself," it is breaking the whole law
Here’s a typical scenario for you at Narita Airport. Let’s say John and Chihoko are flying to JFK. I’m the purser or the head steward. I’m at the door to greet the passengers when they come on the 777. I see Chihoko dressed in very fine clothes. She is like the person we just read about. She has an economy class ticket, but because she is dressed so nice, I take her to the first class section and offer a seat there. She is going to have it really nice for the next 12 hours. John comes on the 777. He is also holding an economy class ticket. But because he isn’t very nicely dressed I send him back to economy class. As a matter of class economy class is full. I tell him to sit on the floor by the door of the 777 and don’t get in anybody’s way.
What have I just done here? I have discriminated. I favored Chihoko over John and I was partial to her. What does God think about that? We don’t have to worry because James covers it. Convicting isn’t it? And we’re only in chapter 2. Gomennasai, we are going to finish this book. Stay with me. Remember you want to be all God wants you to be. James is going to show you how. Let me also say that God is also going to help you do it. Do any of you remember these verses in Philippians?
Philippians 2:12 ¶ Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-- not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-- continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,
Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
We have to work out our salvation before God. Paul doesn’t say work for your salvation, but work out your salvation. In other words you need to come before God with an attitude of fear and trembling and ask God to help you live out what He wants you to do. But the good news, in verse 13 is that He is behind you. He’s working in you to help you to want what He wants and to do what He wants.
OK, let’s see what James says about partiality. The first thing he says is don’t do it. Don’t have this attitude.
James 2:1 ¶ My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.
In other words, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, don’t favor one over another. Now let me clarify something. He is talking about favoring the rich over the poor. You know those who are rich like me; flying first class on a 777 and wearing a gold Rolex. And he is talking about the poor like the rest of you all. Not quite. Remember the only reason I wear a Rolex is because my father wanted me to have it after he died. And the only reason I fly first class is because I’m retired from AA and I can fly if there are seats available.
James is going to give an example of discrimination between the rich and the poor, and probably he is using a situation like we’re in right now, in church.
James 2:2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in.
James 2:3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here’s a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet,"
Think it’s funny? It actually happens in some places. When I lived in Houston, I used to be an usher in my church. I liked ushering. I would usually be at the back of the sanctuary before the service. I would greet people coming in, offer them a church bulletin and help them find a seat. Often if they were first time visitors I could answer their questions about the church. Someone said that the first impression someone gets of the church is how they are treated by the ushers. Now this church had a lot of wealthy members. We were well to do as a body. Most of the men wore suits and the women wore Sunday dresses. You usually did not see someone coming in blue jeans or shorts. But it didn’t matter. I would treat each person the same as they came in. Just a little side note. I had a friend with Campus Crusade for Christ who belonged to that church and would come there when he was in town. He used to give me a hard time during the offering. When I handed him the offering plate he wouldn’t take it. And if I was collecting the plate he would hold on to it tightly so I couldn’t take it from him. Don’t any of you get any ideas.