Summary: "For Dummies" books are a raging success! Why? Full of practical wisdom and simple "How To's" Wouldn't a "Christianity for Dummies," a book full of practical wisdom & simple How Tos on how to live out our faith, be great? James & this series is JUST THAT
Christianity For Dummies: The Sin of Partiality
A. I trust you have your Bible this AM...go ahead and turn to James Chpt 2. We are continuing in our series "Christianity for Dummies" based on the Book of James.
B. So far, we have examined How to Respond to Trials, How to Understand & Defeat Temptation and The Man In The Mirror. Last time, our discussion centered on what does the life of one who professes to have been born again by the gospel look like? Doers of the Word and not just Hearers! James, and so we, comes to a problem area when it comes to being Doers of the Word and not just Hearers. And that is The Sin of Partiality.
C. Context/Background = In the first century, A.D., polarized conditions governed society; people were either rich or poor, slaves or free, Jew or Gentile, Greek or barbarian. However, part of the good news of the gospel was that in Christ Jesus social barriers lost much of their strength:
- As Paul wrote to the Galatians: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Ga 3:28)
- Again, in writing to the Colossians: "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all." (Col 3:11)
D. The problem? It took a while for this truth to sink into the hearts of those who were Christians; even the apostle Peter had to be told this truth through a vision and then a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit - cf. Ac 10:34-35.
E. From the second chapter of the epistle of James, it is apparent that showing partiality was still being practiced in the 1st century church and its sinfulness needed to be pointed out. Guess what? Little has changed in 2000 years! "The Sin Of Partiality" is still prevalent in some forms today, and indeed alive and well in Baptist churches across the Big Hatchie Association. So let's examine James 2:1-13 and consider what James has to say on this subject.
II. Scripture Reading & Prayer
A. Read James 2:1-13.
B. Pray - Father, we come into your house today desiring to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to you; desperately wanting to be transformed by the renewal of our minds through your Word. Reveal to us how we are guilty of the Sin of Partiality.
III. The Sin of Partiality
A. Read and Discuss James 2:1a. My brothers = pastoral concern, loving admonition. Show no partiality = exactly what is the Sin of Partiality?
B. This word "partiality" or "favoritism" is an interesting Greek word. It is a compound word "to take hold of" + "countenance, appearance." It literally means "acceptor of a face" and means making judgments and distinctions based on external considerations, such as physical appearance, social status or race. Dr. Constable defines it as "the fault of one who when called on to requite or to give judgment has respect to the outward circumstances of men and not to their intrinsic merits, and so prefers, as the more worthy, one who is rich, high-born, or powerful, to another who is destitute of such gifts."
B. As Manifested in James' Day
- Read James 2:2-3. Some interpreters believe this was a hypothetical situation that James constructed. Others believe it was a real situation that he knew about. There is no way of knowing now, and which is the case is insignificant. The problem was one of showing partiality between the rich & poor.
- Rich man: "gold ring" = While Jews commonly wore rings, few could afford gold ones. There are some reports that the most ostentatious people wore rings on every finger but the middle to show off their economic status. Also some ancient sources indicate there were even ring rental businesses.
"fine clothing" = Greek word "lampros" meaning radiant, magnificent, brightly shining. "You sit here in a good place" = given the best seat in the house! Why? Simply because he's rich!
- Poor man: "poor" = beggar (Greek) "shabby clothing" = dirty, filthy, culturally the opposite of the finely dressed man. "You stand over there" or "sit down at my feet" - place of a servant. Why? Simply because he's poor!
- Barclay notes "...in its early days the Church was predominantly poor and humble; and therefore if a rich man was converted, and did come to the Christian fellowship, there must have been a very real temptation to make a fuss of him, and to treat him as a special trophy for Christ."
C. As Manifested in Our Day
- Between rich and poor = same as in James' day; preferential treatment to visitors based on apparel; Greg at Central Baptist comments about visitationn night, no poor peeps...church needs $; hospitality towards our rich friends; sometimes it's the poor who despise the rich!