It’s wrong to be partial to some people over others. That’s what it says in the second chapter of the Book of James. But aren’t we better than that? And if we’re partial toward some and reject others, how would we know that? It has mega implications for everyone to see how this piece of Scripture applies to our lives!
There was a guy in our high school named Nelson. He was a pretty doggone nice guy, except he had Cerebral Palsy. He could understand everything around him in normal fashion; he could learn and do well in high school academically. But he walked wildly and his face was distorted, his speech was distorted, so everyone knew who he was but only rarely did anyone treat him like just another student. He was laughed at, targeted by bullies, and he walked the halls alone. Was that what should have happened?
We’re in the Book of James and we learned last week that trials plus patience equals faith or trust. It’s the test of faith. Today, we’re looking at another command oriented principle in the second chapter of James…
Authentic faith doesn’t show “partiality.”
You’re going to learn how to deal with people who aren’t like you.
Ever struggle with that?
This section falls under the heading of the authentication of faith. In other words, you’re going to get a chance to compare what you have with what God says is real faith.
My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 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? Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
We are to treat all men equally if we have faith. Because faith in God tells us that everyone, to God, is in the same boat. Different circumstances, but the same place spiritually. So for us to give less respect to someone because of his or her life circumstances is to not believe that God sovereignly rules over all things. Even the things that normally make us notice and avoid.
How about that phrase, “you have become judges with evil thoughts”? Evil thoughts mean wrong motives. So if I show more attention to someone because they have more money, hoping for gifts or a new job connection, I’ve got wrong motives. Admit it; would you be impressed if the Wegmans family came to CCC? Not only are they locally famous, they’re billionaires. Would you sort of fawn all over them and make references to the stores and how awesome they are and then say to your friends later, yeah, the Wegmans come to our church. When you’re not impressed that the average family comes to our church? Wrong, evil motives.
My son and daughter in law, when they were first married, went to a rather large church in the Washington D.C. area. It was pastored by a really neat guy, a chaplain to the Washington Redskins pro football team. So in their church there ended up, naturally, being some current and former football, NFL football players. Robin went to visit Chris and Chelsea once and went to church with them. Art Monk, who is a former player, wide receiver, and hall of famer handed Robin a bulletin on her way into church. But the pastor had to make a certain announcement regularly. He would stand up, at announcement time and say to the congregation, “Look, we do have some athletes from the NFL here in our church. Please, don’t ask them to autograph anything, take their picture with you or your kids, anything like that. They want to be treated just like anyone else and come to church with their family to hear God’s Word, just like anyone else.” Why did he have to have that conversation regularly with the church? Because some people had partiality, and considered NFL players more important than just anybody else.
What are some of the differences between people?
People use any difference to differentiate. People of faith resist that and fight it where they see it.
I travelled to Romania some years back. There was a marginalized group of people there; the gypsies. The pastor and a few believers felt that the Lord was calling them to reach out to the gypsies. Do you know the average Romanian Christian had a hard time with that? They were poor, uneducated, mostly criminal, wanderers. They drove donkey carts instead of cars. No, I can’t make it to the soup distribution. It happens everywhere.
What are some wrong motives?
James here, rightly tells us that it’s sin to be partial. And yet it’s so easy! We do it every time we let our guard down.
If you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the Law as transgressors. The Royal Law, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
We hope to have mercy from God. But with the same measure you use, that will be measured back to you. Show mercy to everyone you can, because mercy triumphs over judgment.
So what will you do in response?
Do you have genuine, saving faith?
Do you show partiality? By ignoring some because they’re not important enough for you? By paying special attention to your friends and not even saying hello to people who are not your friends yet, and maybe have no friends?
Are your business practices without partiality?
Do you ignore the waiter, the checkout girl or guy, the gas pump guy, the common laborer? Are they treated as your servants? Or do you serve them?
Examine your motives. Why am I friendly or unfriendly to anyone? Do I get some coffee for the handicapped person that comes to our church or would I just do that for someone I respect more?
Real faith has very real qualities. Do you have faith? If you do, are you consistent with real faith?