Summary: To note that Christians are to love all peoples.

The Sin of Partiality

Text: James 2.1-13

Thesis: To note that Christians are to love all peoples.


(1) There was a problem with favoritism/prejudice in the 1st century and there still is today in the 21st century.

(2) Story:

Behind the line in World War I, rest homes were operated which were designed to serve as places of fellowship for all soldiers – whether officers or enlisted men. Over the entrance of such houses were posted these words” Abandon all rank, ye who enter here.” So must it be in the church. (Shelly 25)

(3) Let us note what James has to say about this problem:


I. The Situation (vv. 1-7):

A. Some Christians were being inconsistent (v. 1).

1. “Partiality is inconsistent with faith” (Burdick 177).

a. “Partiality” means literally: “receiving the face” (Moo 102).

b. A good working definition is: “making a judgment concerning someone on a superficial basis and then acting toward that person as though that judgment were valid” (Roper 39).

2. James is saying: “Don’t try to be a Christian and a hypocrite at the same time” (Woods 105).

B. An example of their inconsistency (vv. 2-3) [Comparable today to how we would react to the President of the U. S. A. and a homeless person coming to our assembly]

C. The problem with this inconsistency (vv. 4-7):

1. One making such judgments is making evil judgments (v. 4).

a. Jesus said: “Stop judging by mere appearances […]” (John 7.24, NIV).

b. God does not show partiality (Acts 10.34-35); therefore, neither should we.

2. If partiality were to be shown, then it is being shown to the wrong one (vv. 5-7).

a. The church was comprised primarily of the poor.

b. The rich were mistreating the church.

(1) They were oppressing the church.

(2) They were blaspheming the name of Jesus.

II. The Solution (vv. 8-13):

A. Fulfill the “royal law” (v. 8)

1. “Royal” because:

(a) It belongs to a king (Moo 111).

(b) It is the supreme law to which all other laws governing human relationships are subordinate. It is the summation of all such laws (Burdick 179).

2. The law is to love your neighbor as yourself (cf. Lev. 19.18; Matt. 7.12).

B. Recognize the severity of showing favoritism (vv. 9-11)

1. To be partial is to sin (v. 9).

2. It is as serious as any other sin (vv. 10-11).

a. Verse 10 seems to have been placed there because:

“Some of the Jews had been prone to regard the law of God as a series of isolated injunctions. To keep one was to gain credit and to break one was to incur debt. Thus a man could add and subtract until he arrived at a reasonable credit for himself” (Shelly 31).

(1) In other words, one cannot discount the law to be impartial just because he/she is observing several other laws.

(2) The truth is that a person cannot be saved by law, but once one is saved by grace through faith, then he/she lives in accordance to the teachings of Jesus.

b. The point is: Sin is sin and always wrong!

C. We will be judged by our mercy or lack thereof (vv. 12-13).


(1) Christians cannot be prejudice.

(2) The Lord is not prejudice and He loves you today regardless of anything … will you love Him back and then love others as He loves them?

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