VS. 1: My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old 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?
◦ Look up Proverbs 30:8. We should want neither poverty nor riches. Yet we do want riches and we do give certain people special privileges?
◦ In chapter 2, the first 13 verses here are about how we are to treat people of different social statuses.
◦ J. Vernon McGee says that the most difficult people to reach for Christ is the most poverty-stricken and the richest…. The problem? Imbalance. Imbalance throws us off. If you are too far one way, then it consumes your thinking.
◦ God goes after this the problem of drastic social statuses. And He is for the poor!
◦ Jesus came not as a rich man, but one not even having a place to sleep.
◦ Note in verse 1, we MUST NOT show favoritism if we profess Christ!
▪ Think about it! What does it say to the world if you as a Christian show favoritism to the wealthy, to people in certain positions, to anyone?
▪ Christ showed no favoritism! Thank you Jesus! I would have been left out if He had!
▪ Remember every human being that you come in contact with is a human being that Christ died for! He or she stands at the foot of the cross just like you do.
◦ Leviticus 19:15 tell us the same thing. This is not something new with Christ. God never wanted anyone to show anyone favoritism!
◦ Vs. 2, shows the difference in how people dress. Some dress up, some don’t, and some can’t. It should make no difference to us.
▪ I use to wear a dress to church every Sunday Morning. Dressed up. But then one day, I invited a friend at work to church. She was a single mom, and barely making it. She said she did not have any dresses or anything to wear. I told her it was alright and then she made sure I understood that she had tried that and got “looks”. I quit wearing dresses every Sunday. I was afraid I would become one of those lookers!
- We become these sinners! Because we are sinners. So we have to work at ways to make sure we do not become judgmental or partial.
◦ Vs. 5. clearly lets us know we what we become! And we are told clearly not to judge!
▪ All throughout history the poor have been slighted. They don’t get the same deals as the rich or the middle class. They get slighted.
▪ God has always known this and has always from Old Testament through the New Testament shown a concern for them.
▪ He gave them Jesus, just like everyone else. But He warns us to not look down our noses at anyone!
▪ And in the end, the poor, the rich, the pretty, the ugly, one nationality or another, all have the promise of Christ. All have the love of God!
▪ And many who people have looked down on, God has chosen! And used!
- vs. 6 – 7: But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?
◦ Sometimes we are so stupid! I think God is pointing out one of those times. We will give honor to the rich or the ones of “better” position, and yet those same ones have abused us, or hurt us. On the other hand, the ones we look down upon have done nothing to us! That is dumb.
◦ And who is it that is blaspheming? The ones in power, the rich, the very ones we try to get to notice us, like us or whatever.
▪ Do you believe this? I hate to admit it, but I have done it many times. Whoever seems to have the upper hand, the more power, the most popular, the one who seems in control, the one who everyone else sees as great, the one who teaches, preaches, the boss, the boss’s pet, whoever I somehow thought was “better” I gave preference to. And beyond that, I ignored or even slighted the ones who were not those things.
- Of course NOW I feel bad about that. NOW I THINK I would not do it again.
- But in truth, if we are not careful, we do it without much thought. It is like we are taught to, or trained to, or that it is just the natural evil in us that makes us do it automatically.
- We need to get prayed up on this matter. We need to ask God’s Holy Spirit to speak to us when we are thinking about showing this kind of favoritism or when we are slighting someone. I am asking God to knock me over the head if that is what it takes. Because in truth, sometimes I tune out that “still small voice” and listen to my own crazy self.
◦ (Just a side note: For years when I have been teaching Ladies’ Bible Study, God has really pushed me to share my craziness, my sin, my stupid mistakes, my weird thoughts, my perverted history and almost all of my most embarrassing moments with the ladies. Now it seems He wants me to do it here! I want to go wipe out all those statements above that make me look bad. But I don’t believe I would be in His will if I did, so I guess you will get to see my faults, weirdness, and sinful self as we go along. Try not to judge me! I just hope it helps someone! Because it is a bit painful for me!)
- vs. 8-10: If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “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. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
◦ Don’t you just love it. James calls sin, sin! We might not really see showing favoritism as sin. I mean, it is not one of the ten commandments right? We can rationalize a lot of things let me tell you! Sometimes we just think there are things we probably ought not to do, but sin? No, it is not sin!.
◦ How about we define sin. Lets see if we can clarify it some. We need reminders sometimes. So here it is:
▪ SIN IS ANYTHING WE DO (in word, deed or thoughts that we ponder on) THAT ARE NOT WHAT GOD WANTS US TO DO, OR ANYTHING WE DON’T DO THAT GOD WANTS US TO DO.
- In our thoughts, I added that we ponder on because I really believe the first time you think something it is not sinful. It could be Satan. But it is what you do with that first thought that makes it sin or not.
◦ Here is an example keeping in context with our scripture:
▪ Scenario one: I have some great plans for the day, I am going to bake a casserole for a family who is having a hard time and then take it them. I have called them and told them not to cook tonight because I will bring it. But I get a phone call from another woman from the church who everyone just loves, but who has never really talked to me before. I have been trying to figure out how to get into her group and to get her to recognize me some. And here she is calling me! She asks me if I could help her today with the decorating of the church for an event that is happening tomorrow. I am so excited that I push aside my other plans and go help this woman in hopes that this will be a plus for me.
- Favoritism to someone I deem better! Ugh!
▪ I am going along my Mary way, and I am running a bit late to my hair appointment. Now this appointment is just a real luxury thing for me. It is not a need, it is a like, it is a want. And it is expensive. (Come on ladies, don’t fight this. We love our hair to look good! We do! And there is nothing wrong with that. But we must know that it is a want and not a need!) So anyway, as I am on my way, I am thinking about adding a few extra touches that I don’t usually do, like waxing, or nails or something. Then I get a call. It is from a woman at church. She is broke down with a flat tire. Stuck somewhere. She can’t find anyone to help her. She has no money, no auto club to call and she has to pick up her kids by 3:00 at school. She ask me if I have any idea who she could call for help. “Oh I think, there is my out, she is not asking me for help!” That is the first thought that I don’t count as sin yet. But then I start trying to think of all kinds of ways to avoid being the one to help her. I earned this money, I have a right. I want my waxing. I want my nails done. I deserve it, right?
- I could tell her I don’t have a clue who could help her. Lie!
- I could come up with someone else she could call and hope they are willing to help. (Sin, I believe)
- I could say I will pray for her! Oh my! How helpful was that? If God led her to call me and I throw it back at God?
◦ Favoritism can be even to ourselves! Double ugh!
- Or I could say, I will help her. Sigh. There goes my waxing, my nails, my hair, everything!
◦ Then I go by Walmart, get a tire and either go change the tire, ugh, or get someone to help me change it. She is thankful and goes on her way to get her kids.
◦ I am dirty and poorer than before the phone call, but I am also aware that at this moment in my life, I did what the Bible taught me was the right thing to do. “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you”.
▪ There is really no going wrong with that move!
◦ James is clarifying here something that needs clarified over and over, I believe. Because I believe we forget this one point often, or we rationalize it away.
▪ If you commit ANY sin you are a sinner and unworthy to be granted life ever after in the presence of The Holy God!
◦ So do we not try to justify what we deem as little sins? Oh my yes! I do it all them time! I hear other do it. I have ,and see others , argue about something being a sin or not that fell smack dab in the middle of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”! We are pitiful really. I am so grateful for grace!
▪ Sometimes people will argue that James teaches works. That is that James is trying to say we have to be good enough to get into God’s favor and be saved.
- I believe this verse proves he is not doing that. Because he just said “if you break one law, you are a lawbreaker”, period!
- If we recognize this, and that it is truly grace that saves and not works, then we can learn to do works for the right reason. Because of what Christ already did for us! Because we love Him. Because we are trying to be like Him! Not because it will get us anywhere.
◦ Helping that woman with a flat tire did not get me anywhere. (That was just a story, not a real event.) But it was what I ought to do because I have Christ and all of His love in me.