Summary: The church must be the one place in the world where the things which serve to classify and separate people must not be allowed.
A. I read a story about what happened at a church one Sunday morning.
1. As the congregation began to arrive they found a dirty, old vagrant lying beside the church’s front door.
2. Some looked at him and said how awful that someone looking like that is lying outside our beautiful church.
3. Others said that the preacher should make him move off the property, after all, we don’t want to encourage the rifraff to camp out outside our church.
4. Some stared and others ignored him as they passed by and entered the church.
5. But not a single person offered to help him or ask him to come in.
6. As everyone sat in the auditorium and the time arrived for the service to begin, the door to the preacher’s office opened in walked the vagrant they had seen just a moment ago.
7. As the vagrant removed his hat and coat the congregation realized it was the preacher.
8. He stepped to the podium and said, “For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in…” (Mt. 25:42-43)
B. As we move from the first chapter of James into the second, we see that James builds on the theme of being doers of the Word of God.
1. James tackles one of the great challenges for us as humans and that is the challenge of NOT showing favoritism.
2. The problems of prejudice and respect of persons is a problem that has to be faced afresh by every generation.
3. In James’ day the problem was between rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, Roman and barbarian.
4. Today it is between rich and poor, management and labor, educated and uneducated, white and black, American and foreign, godly and ungodly.
5. The problem is still here, and each of us has to face it…even in the church.
C. So, let’s move through this passage from James seeing how he tackles the issue, so that we can be the kind of people and church with which God is pleased.
1. First of all, we notice…
I. The Spiritual Problem – Our Human Tendency To Show Favoritism
A. James begins, “My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.” (2:1)
1. He really lathers that intro before he gets to his point, doesn’t he.
2. He begins warmly “My Brothers,” then he qualifies it saying, “as believers in our GLORIOUS Lord Jesus Christ.” Christ is indeed “glorious,” wouldn’t you agree?
3. The fact that we should not show favoritism has a direct relationship to the fact that we are brothers and believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!
4. Showing favoritism or prejudice runs counter to the character of Christ.
5. Though he was glorious, He humbled himself and identified himself with the poor and oppressed.
B. If I asked you this question, how would you respond? “Are you a Christian Snob?”
1. All of us would probably respond, “Of course not!”
2. But if we are honest with ourselves, then we have to admit that we have to fight against the tendency to judge others in very unspiritual ways.
3. Most of us walk around with an unpublished list in our minds of those who are desirable and those who are undesirable. Let’s be honest here!
4. We have a tendency to judge people by their wealth – how are they dressed, what kind of car do they drive? Where do they live and work?
5. We have a tendency to judge people by their education – did they finish high school and college? Do they sound smart and sophisticated?
6. We have a tendency to judge people by their looks – are they old or young? Good looking or ugly? Heavy or thin? What is their nationality or the color of their skin?
7. We also have a tendency to judge people by their family situation – are they married or divorced? How many times? What about the kids – what kind of shape are they in?
C. James wrote to tell us that these kind of judgments are sinful. (Verse 9)
1. The word translated “favoritism” comes from two words – “to receive” and “face.”
2. “To receive by face” is to evaluate a person on the basis of surface characteristics.
D. James then illustrates the problem with a common occurrence.
1. He gives us a hypothetical situation – “suppose two visitors come to worship one Sunday.”
2. The first is a poor man. (Show Slide.) Meet Joe Poor Man. He comes in a shabby old suit and dirty hat. He hasn’t shaved in days and reeks with body odor and alcohol.