Summary: Most every person in this world is looking to be accepted, to be appreciated, and to be loved for who they ARE, not who they are SEEN to be. What they’re looking for is an unconditional love, not a judgemental one.
James 2:1-13 – the Discriminating Christian
Most every person in this world is looking to be accepted, to be appreciated, and to be loved for who they ARE, not who they are SEEN to be. What they’re looking for is an unconditional love, not a judgemental one. Is that not the way WE feel? When we come into a room, do we want people to make a judgement call on who we are simply by the way we LOOK? Do we judge OTHERS when we meet them on a ‘first impression’ basis? I would hope that is not the case, and tonight as we continue our look into James, and how we are to live as Christians, I want us to take a good look through God’s eyes as to how we are to consider others.
1My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If 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," 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
5Listen, 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? 6But 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? 7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? (NIV)
1. LOOK AT PEOPLE THROUGH GOD’S EYES
There are lots of different ways our society splits along divisional lines. It might be race, language, family, and of course religion. But the one James points out here is one that can really divide people from one another, MONEY. The world sees money as the thing that makes it work. ‘Money makes the world go ‘round,’ is the familiar quote. And those who have it are often the ones that we are attracted to. Why, because maybe if we’re nice to them, they’ll give us some of that money? ‘Here, Mr. or Mrs. Rich looking person…here’s the best seat in the house, just for you…move it Mr. Ordinary!’
All through the Bible, there are instances where people are judged by their outward appearance, when God has something different in mind. Take for example when Samuel the prophet went to anoint the new king of Israel. God told him to go the family of Jesse in Bethlehem as God had chosen one of his sons to be the king. When Samuel arrived to sacrifice with the family, he saw Eliab. He was big, strong, and handsome. Surely this is the Lord’s chosen one. No, said God. Not him. 1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (NIV)
The same goes for us. We are not to consider what somebody looks like on the outside, including their financial position or social status or skin colour or the label on their clothes or the jewelry they wear. When anyone comes through the doors of this church, we cannot judge them. Who are we to know what their heart is like before we get to know them? God knows them, and if we know God, we are to see them as He would, simply as His children, whom He created, every single one of them. Because that’s the way God looked at every one of us before we gave our lives to Him, and the way He sees us today. Should we not extend that same kind of respect to all who come?
Let’s keep reading on in James 2
8If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. 9But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
12Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!