Summary: Why is showing preference to the rich a sin? And, is it really as much of a sin as murder or adultery?
Today we are back into the book of James, the half-brother of Jesus, who is writing to Jews who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus, the Messiah, for salvation. These Christian Jews are scattered among the nations but the message is for us as well. We are gentiles, redeemed by the blood of Jesus! PTL!!
But, before we get into the Scripture for today we must declare the Glory of God. Without the realization that we are in the presence of God this would all just be a dry study. Dry study informs the intellect but not the heart! We want our hearts to be informed and matured as well as our minds. Amen?
Let’s read together these excerpts from Psalm 95
“The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.
“Fire goes before Him and consumes His foes on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.
“The heavens proclaim His righteousness, and all peoples see His glory. For You, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods. Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise His holy name.”
We serve a glorious God, in fact, the only True God. He alone is God and only in Him do we find true life!
Pride is a great source of sin. When we exalt ourselves it leaves us open to all sorts of assault from the devil. But today’s scripture is about exalting some and dishonoring others!
James 2:1-7 HCSB
“My brothers, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.
“For example, a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor man dressed in dirty clothes also comes in. If you look with favor on the man wearing the fine clothes and say,
“‘Sit here in a good place,’ and yet you say to the poor man, ‘Stand over there,’ or, ‘Sit here on the floor by my footstool,’ haven’t you discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
“Listen, my dear brothers: Didn’t God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that He has promised to those who love Him?
“Yet you dishonored that poor man. Don’t the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Don’t they blaspheme the noble name by which you are called?”
Who are these men coming into church (or the synagogue of that day)?
Suppose an extremely handsome man with an excellent suit comes pulling into the parking lot in his top of the line Mercedes. He is greeted and handed a bulletin by someone in the foyer and he promptly tips the kind greeter with a $50 bill. He asks where he should sit and is told, “Where ever you want!”
At almost the same time a man with a scruffy beard, a terribly scarred face and torn smelly clothing comes in. He has hitch-hiked a ride to church because he doesn’t even have a bike to ride. Someone else hands him a bulletin and he says he doesn’t know how to read and hands it back. He needs to use the restroom and when he comes out he asks where he should sit and is told, “Sit down front where no one else wants to sit.”
We don’t know if these men are born again or not. We actually don’t know anything about them except for their outward appearance.
But take a look at James 2:3a,4b NIV
“If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes … have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”
And then look at verse James 2:5 NIV
“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?”
John Wesley was used to gatherings where there was no casual conversation in the sanctuary and the order of the service was strictly outlined and followed with no deviation. Those sitting in the pews were the well dressed, well fed, wealthy and educated subjects of England. The wretched poor were not welcome and if they dared to come at all would stand and listen through the open doors and windows.
OK. So, now we’ve got that image in our minds.
John Wesley - converted to “Field Preaching”
In response to fellow preacher George Whitefield's invitation, John Wesley had arrived in Bristol, England. Whitefield was an open-air preacher of great eloquence, who had built up a large following in the area but he wanted to return to America and was anxious for Wesley to continue the style of work he had begun.