Summary: In the Book of James, we see the real faith that engages life's trials and temptations, social prejudice and pride, and the path to staying plugged into God.
When Faith Confronts Favoritism
Series: Real Faith (The Book of James)
Brad Bailey - July 14, 2013
Let me begin by asking you to reflect on this question:
Who do you tend to include in your life?
Who do you tend NOT to include in your life?
All of us walk around with an unpublished list in our minds of desirable and undesirable
Whose on your unpublished list of desirable and undesirable people?
How might it relate to wealth...success...education.... race...age...gender?
These are dynamics that God speaks to us about today.....as we continue to hear what the
apostle James wrote in the New Testament book that bears his name.
James focuses on 'Real Faith".... not simply what we claim to believe...or even want to believe...but
how the reality of life with God changes how we live.
So as we continue through the Book of James, he begins by...
IDENTIFYING the problem between faith and favoritism
James 1:26-2:1 (NLT)
26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your
religion is worthless. 27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for
orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. 1 My dear brothers
and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some
people over others?
James focuses on 'Real Faith"....because as we know... ideas about faith and religion can be
corrupted. We can twist the truth to fit our own bent.
One of the ways it can go bad is when we think that all that matters is not doing bad things. We
become prideful of what we "don't do" that others do... merciless. It can be hard to be around that
type of person or group. Often something seems wrong...and it's usually how they treat people.
Here we are confronted with what really matters - HOW WE TREAT PEOPLE....especially
those who may seem to have less...or to be in a position of weakness.
He speaks of one's "religion" not as a category of certain beliefs...as we might today...but more as
one's faithfulness to God...the living God.
He begins saying it doesn't matter what you claim...if what comes out of your mouth does not
honor people... your so called faith is worthless.
For Jesus had challenged the religious leaders that it's what comes out of a man that reveals
their hearts. James will speak more about the significance of our speech later.
He tells us that the real deal...that which God the Father is looking at... is how we treat those with
needs around us... and how we refuse the ways of this world that corrupt us.
There is something vital to catch in stating both an element of omission and commission....we are to
keep ourselves "pure" ... that is, from that which does not reflect our true nature...AND actively live
out such a nature by how we CARE FOR THOSE IN NEED.
Real faith is not simply one or the other. Some think that if they care about the poor....nothing else
they do with their lives matters....but here he is engaging the opposite problem. We can't just
withdraw and abstain from bad things...we are to care for orphans and widows.
Now specifically...he begins to identify a central issue... which is to "show favor to some people
over others." He is confronting the issue of favoritism.
Not referring to simply having some people we feel closer to and may be more intimate with.
• We all do that.
• Jesus did that.
• He is not referring to the normal flow of developing intimacy...but rather he is confronting
Favoritism is about the way treat people based on outward circumstances.
This becomes clear as James...
Now he gives
An EXAMPLE of favoritism
James 1:26-2:2-4 (NLT)
2 For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive
jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. 3 If you give special
attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there,
or else sit on the floor”—well, 4 doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by
James offers a graphic illustration of the problem. Two men come into a gathering ....one is
decked out and obviously wealthy (literally "gold handed"...meaning with lots of gold on his
fingers)...and common work worn dirty clothes. The wealthy is given the choice seat...and the poor
man is told to "stand off to the side" or sit on the floor.
There is nothing wrong with extending a warm welcome to the rich visitor.
> The sin was in treating the poor visitor differently.