Summary: The best way to live is to see people the way God sees them and to love your neighbor as yourself.
James: Religion that Works
“The Best Way to Live”
March 5, 2006
Introduction: All of us are looking for the best and most satisfying way to live our lives. As humans we naturally seek out what gives us the best feeling and the most satisfying experience in our lives. People search their entire lives to try and find the answer to life’s meaning and purpose.
James gives us a great model of how we as Christians should live our lives so that we are living the best life possible. Today we want to look at two practical things we can do to live the kind of life that God desires for us.
I. We must see people the way God sees people.
The Christians that James is writing to have been going through some incredible trials. One constant that has held them together has been their coming together for worship and their life as the body of Christ. However, there appears to be some internal conflicts that James needs to address.
“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 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," have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?” James 2:1-7 (NIV)
The common struggle that the church was dealing with was one of giving preference to individuals at the expense of others. The interesting thing is that they were not discriminating over race or national background, but over financial standing. It seems that preference was being given to those who were rich.
Christians must see others with a God-view.
Man has a very narrow view of what is right and good. We see external matters, but God looks deeper.
When Samuel was told of God to go to the house of Jesse to find Israel’s new king, he had a very similar struggle.
"Greetings," he replied, "I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Perform the ceremonies to make yourselves holy, and come with me to the sacrifice." He performed the ceremonies for Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they came, he saw Eliab and thought, "Certainly, here in the Lord’s presence is his anointed king." But the Lord told Samuel, "Don’t look at his appearance or how tall he is, because I have rejected him. God does not see as humans see. Humans look at outward appearances, but the Lord looks into the heart." 1 Samuel 16:5-7 (God’s Word)
We must begin to see people the way God sees them. God is not a respecter of persons. He is the God of all mankind.
The Old Testament is filled with descriptions of how God views man:
God, your God, is the God of all gods, he’s the Master of all masters, a God immense and powerful and awesome. He doesn’t play favorites, takes no bribes, makes sure orphans and widows are treated fairly, takes loving care of foreigners by seeing that they get food and clothing. You must treat foreigners with the same loving care-- remember, you were once foreigners in Egypt.” Deut. 10:17-19 (The Message)
God is a lover of mankind.
God calls us to treat others with justice and equality regardless of position or status.
"Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in all the towns the Lord your God is giving you. They will judge the people fairly throughout the land. You must never twist justice or show partiality. Never accept a bribe, for bribes blind the eyes of the wise and corrupt the decisions of the godly. Let true justice prevail, so you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 16:18-20 (New Living Translation)
Unfortunately one of the most difficult places to find equality in people is in the American church. We tend to be a fragmented body not only along race or ethnic lines, but also along social and economic lines. It grieves the heart of God.
Donald McGavern notes how this type of status life has impacted the mission influence of the western church.