Summary: We are all lawbreaking sinners in a desperate situation who find grace and mercy through the cross of Jesus.
Open: OK, So today I want to start off today by asking a few rather personal questions. How many people would be willing to raise their hand in the presence of everyone here today -- in this very public setting admit to the fact that sometime during the course of their life they broke the law, were subsequently arrested, and had to appear before a judge to answer for their crime? How many people would admit to having been found guilty of breaking a law and subsequently had to either pay a fine or spend a little time in jail? How many people are feeling a little uneasy about the person you are presently sitting next to and would like to change seats right now? - OK -- let me take another cut at this: How many people would be willing to admit that sometime during the course of your life you are aware that you broke the law but never actually got caught and so you subsequently faced no consequences because of it? How many people would like to change seats at this point?
My guess is that in a gathering this size we might have some folks who fit into some of these categories, but don't feel real comfortable talking about it in a public setting. Very few people feel very comfortable giving full disclosure over all the dirty details of their lives -- particularly when the details involve mistakes we've made and times in our life when we weren't living an exemplary life. We don't like talking about the times in our lives when we made major mistakes and caused major disappointments. We tend to want to keep those kinds of things swept under the rug. If we have broken the law, we tend to want to keep that hidden from prying eyes. Who wants everyone else talking about the fact that we are lawbreakers?
Well today James wants to talk just that. He wants to highlight the reality t
hat in God's eyes we are all seen as lawbreakers in one way or another.
Context: You'll remember from a couple of weeks ago Pastor James is addressing the issue of showing favoritism in a Christian setting. This Pastor had an issue where a particular group of people were receiving more attention in the church than another. You remember the setting. Two guys showed up to church on the same Sunday morning. One of them is very rich -- he is gold-fingered -- meaning he is wearing several gold rings on his hand. Very ostentatious. He apparently liked to flash his wealth around because of the favorable response it brought from people he interacted with. He has on shiny clothes -- He's looks fine. And he gets this special treatment -- he's led up to a place of honor and given the best seat in the house. And it's all because of his perceived wealth. Then a poor guy comes in and he's dressed in shabby clothes, worn out shoes and probably doesn't smell all that great and he's treated with indifference. He doesn't get the same warm welcome the other visitor gets. He's basically told to sit on the floor and keep his mouth shut. Pastor James watches this going on his congregation and he's blown away by it. My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. (James 2:1) Showing preferential treatment towards anyone is completely incompatible with our faith. There is no inherent, no intrinsic and no needful reason for partiality in a Christian setting. You're going to give someone special treatment because of their looks, because of their clothes, because of their profession, possessions, life style, education, money, position, fame, whatever it is?
That kind of thinking is totally foreign to the nature of God. In Deuteronomy 10:17 it says, "For the Lord your God is the God of Gods and Lord of Lords, the great, the mighty and the awesome God who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes." God in His nature is absolutely impartial. God treats everyone equally based on their need. He is not impressed with how they dress, He's not impressed with how much money they have, what positions they hold, what prestige they have, what fame they might have obtained. He is not impressed with anything to do with their profession or their economic status, the home or car or the bank account. He is not impressed with any of that. That is a non-issue with God. He treats all equally based on spiritual need. So the first part of this chapter James is saying that that quality of mutual acceptance is to be reflected in the way we relate to one another. There needs to be an absolute refusal to express special treatment towards anyone in the context of the Church. We are all blind lame destitute beggars who need forgiveness and salvation in Christ.