Summary: A look at how we are to treat other people.
Treating People Right
One of your biggest problems and mine are people problems – learning how to get along with other people. There is a short poem that goes –
“To dwell above with those you love – that will be glory.
To dwell below, with those you know – that’s a different story.”
We have been going through the book of James and in James chapter two he tells us how to get along with people – how to treat people right. He gives us the principle, the problem and the prescription on Treating People Right. Let’s look first at:
I. The PRINCIPLE
Follow along as I read James chapter two verse one:
“My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.” James 2:1 (NKJV)
Whenever James begins a sentence with “My brethren” – watch out! He’s getting ready to nail you. He’s getting ready to talk about prejudice, partiality and favoritism. Go ahead and circle the word “partiality”. The Greek word is a compound word that means “to receive” and “face”. It literally means “to receive someone because of what you see" - by outward appearance. But beware - outward appearance – what we see when we look at a person – is a superficial judgment of someone. James is telling us, “Don’t do that. Don’t accept people based on what you see on the outside. The Good News Bible says:
“Never treat anybody in a different way according to their outward appearance.” James 2:1 (GN)
All of us do it though – don’t we? If someone has an outward appearance that is pleasing to us - we treat them differently than if we don’t like what we see. Here are some common ways that we judge people:
GENDER – Is the person male or female. Depending on your gender you respond in different ways.
APPEARANCE – We discriminate often because of appearance. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” There is a lot of truth in that statement. In various cultures and generations our concept of beauty changes. How do you judge people? Do you judge them immediately on how they look? How they dress? If a man has long hair and a beard – do you threat them different than if they were clean shaven? Do you judge a person based on how many body piercings or tattoos they have? Do you judge a person because they are wearing overalls rather than slacks and collared shirt?
ANCESTRY – is another area we judge people. What is their family background? Who do they belong to? Do they come from good stock?
RACE – What is their ethnic background? What is the color of their skin? What is the language that they speak?
AGE – How old are they? Are they from my generation – or are they too old or too young?
ACHIEVEMENT – Our society gushes over winners and forgets losers. One minute you’re a hero – the next you’re a zero.
WEALTH – This is the most common distinction around the world. Are you rich or are you poor? What is your economic status? What attitude do you have about people who have more money than you?
II. The PROBLEM
All of us judge others by a variety of factors. All of us show favoritism base on a variety of elements. This is the area that James picks up on in verses two thru four of James chapter two:
“For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place," and say to the poor man, "You stand there," or, "Sit here at my footstool," have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” James 2:2-4 (NKJV)
Two guys are strangers. They arrive at the church at the same time. The first guy is wealthy – that can be seen by the clothes that he wears. The other guy doesn’t have much money – that can be seen by the clothes that he wears also. The ushers standing at the door take the wealthy man and seat him in the place of honor. The poor man they tell him to go and stand in the corner. James tells us that it should not be this way. James tells us that we should not show favoritism because of a person’s affluence. We should not show favoritism because of the amount of money a person has in his or her bank account.
James says there are three problems with favoritism.
1. Favoritism is UNGODLY