Summary: A classic sermon by Adrian Rogers declaring the church should be a place where "everybody is somebody and Jesus Christ is Lord."
This sermon from the Adrian Rogers Legacy Library © 2010 Rogers Family Trust. Used by permission. www.pastortraining.com www.adrianrogerslibrary.com
Take your Bibles, please, and turn if you will to James chapter 2. We worked our way through James chapter 1. As we continue our journey with James, as he’s telling us about religion in shoe leather, practical Christianity. We’re going to read together now, the first 10 verses of James chapter 2, “The Sad Case of the Snooty Usher.”
“My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:1–10).
Prejudice is what makes people down on what they’re not up on, and James warns very strongly about this. So, I want you to think tonight with me on the strange case of the snooty usher.
I. The Prohibition of Prejudice
Now, James makes at least five powerful points in the scripture that I’ve read to you. The first is the prohibition of prejudice in verse 1: “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons” (James 2:1). Now, this word “respect of persons” is actually a combination of a noun and a verb in the Greek, and what it means, if we were to translate it literally is, “don’t lay hold of a person’s face.” Now, what does that mean? It means that don’t judge a person by their appearance. “…for man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). There is nothing that can hurt the Kingdom of Christ and the work of our Lord more than snobbishness in a church. Where we look on a certain person who, because of his economic status, or the way he is dressed, or the way he looks, we look upon him and judge him to be thus and so of a person, and treat him accordingly.
Now, it may be that we treat him with flattery because he tends to be very affluent looking, and very intelligent, or very witty, or very charming or whatever it is. And, we may flatter the person. Or, it may be that we treat him with snobbishness, and that we repudiate him, and that we reject him, also because of his appearance, because there’s something about the way he appears that we do not like. And, we don’t do it because of any rational reason, we just simply lay hold of a person’s face. We jump at conclusions. You know, it’s dangerous to jump at conclusions, did you know that? Somebody said, “Once there was a dog named August who was always jumping at conclusions. One day he jumped at the conclusion of a mule, that was the last day of August.”
Now, people are known to just simply look at something and say, “I like it,” or “I don’t like it.” This man is good, that man is bad, and it’s all just simply due to appearances. And, when we do that we have what the Bible calls “respect of persons.” And, when we have respect of persons, we may be flattering some people and gossiping about, or criticizing, other people, not because of anything inherently good, or anything inherently bad in that person, but because of simply how they appear.
Now, you know the difference between gossip and flattery? Flattery is where we say to someone’s face what we don’t say behind their back, and gossip is where we say behind someone’s back what we don’t say to their face. And, both are wrong. And, whether you’re in the business of flattering and fawning over the rich and the cultured, or whether you’re in the business of criticizing and gossiping about the poor and the down and out, you are wrong in the sight of God—and what damage it does to the Kingdom of God.