Summary: Racism is a sin that roots itself in many hearts and comes from favoritism. James tells us that favoritism has no place in the Church and therefore no place in the heart of a believer in Christ.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK SERIES
THE SIN OF RACISM
READ James 2:1-9
“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 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," 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 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? 6 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? 7 Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8 If you really keep the royal law found in "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.”
BREAKDOWN OF JAMES 2:1-9
In verse 1, James uses the word “favoritism.” The word means “respecter of persons” or to “show partiality.” James is talking about the fault of giving judgment to the outward circumstances of man or woman and thinking them more worthy than others. It is a fault or a sin or an error to treat someone as more worthy because they are rich, a certain skin color, have political power, or are famous. It is a fault or a sin or an error to treat someone as less because they are poor, a certain skin color, have no political power, have a disability, or are in our estimation a ‘nobody.’ That is favoritism. That is sin. James identifies it specifically in verse 4 as “evil thoughts.”
Jesus says in Mark 7:21-23, “For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.'" Evil thoughts are sinful and lead us to act in ways that are sinful.
In this passage, in particular, James highlights “love your neighbor as yourself” in verse 8 and shares with us that when we show favoritism towards people around us and judge others as less than us that we are convicted because we sin. As I was thinking about this topic, favoritism, I was trying to think of all the ways I might show favoritism or ways it might be shown to me or ways I might see it in our culture and in our American society.
TYPES OF FAVORITISM I THOUGHT OF
Nepotism: In business, hiring family members regardless of qualifications.
Cryonism: In business, hiring friends regardless of qualifications.
Hero-Worship: Treating a famous person differently than another person without notoriety.
Gender Bias: Believing that one gender is better than the other; treating the other gender poorly.
Age-ism: Treating someone different because of their age… usually the very young or the very old.
Racism: Treating one race different than others; usually preferring one’s own race to others.
It was this last one, Racism, that I’d like to focus on today.
There is much going on in the United States about race and protests and violence. I don’t think there is a week that goes by where I don’t see something on the news that relates to race and violence. I pray that you will stop and pause and allow the following to help us frame what we, as followers of Christ, should believe, think, and do about racism. Racism is a sin that roots itself in many hearts and comes from favoritism. James tells us that favoritism has no place in the Church and therefore no place in the heart of a believer in Christ. James also would tell us that racism has no place in the Church and therefore no place in the heart of a believer in Christ.
RACISM IS JUDGMENT BASED ON RACE
First, racism is the judgment of one person that he or she is better than another based on race. What does the Bible say?
READ Acts 17:24-27
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”