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.

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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All of us walk around with an unpublished list in our minds of desirable and undesirable


Whose on your unpublished list of desirable and undesirable people?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 race...age...gender?

These are dynamics that God speaks to us about 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 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

evil motives?

James offers a graphic illustration of the problem. Two men come into a gathering 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.

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