Apostle James on Favortism


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Apostle James on Favortism

  1. 1. James 221-13 The Apostle James Addresses Favoritism
  2. 2. Context This text continues last week’s text where James addresses the Jewish followers of the Messiah Jesus Christ who reside outside of Jerusalem. James knows the days of Jerusalem are numbered and he wants to ensure that Jewish disciples clearly know how they should be representing Christ.
  3. 3. Context In this text James addresses the habit of some Jewish disciples to believe that some should not have faith because they are unworthy by their standards. He specifically cites this behavior showing itself in partiality and favoritism.
  4. 4. Context James was determined to show them that this practice was entirely unacceptable to a life lived in Christ. He did so because he knew that we will be judged in some sense as we have judged others and there should be repentance shown by such prejudicial behavior while there is still time.
  5. 5. Context Edwin Markham once said, “We have committed the Golden Rule to memory; now let’s commit it to life. ’’ That is James’s point. In this chapter he insists on consistent Christianity.
  6. 6. Context The Apostle Paul would later address this behavior by reminding us that we all have fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23) and so none of us are worthy to judge another or especially treat someone differently by that judgment.
  7. 7. Context Spiros Zodhiates obsen/ ed, “Whenever James is about to scold the believers of his day, he likes to preface the scolding with a word of love, and that word is my brethren. He admonishes in love; he corrects in affection. ”
  8. 8. James 2:1 My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?
  9. 9. James 2:1 James addressed some of the problems, temptations, and sins that can be faced in the early church and among all those who call themselves completed Christians. New believers especially needed to turn from the ways of the world and to the ways of Jesus Christ their Lord.
  10. 10. James 2:1 James warned his readers not to show favoritism. In the first century of the church, partiality was already a problem. Even today it is easy for an unspoken caste system to develop and all distinctions between rich and poor should be eliminated.
  11. 11. James 2:1 Showing partiality was specifically forbidden by the Mosaic Law, particularly in judicial decisions (Exodus 23:3,6 and Deuteronomy 1 :17 and Leviticus 19:15). Peter learned that God himself is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34, King James Version).
  12. 12. James 2:2,3 For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please, ” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there, ” or, “Sit at my feet, ”
  13. 13. James 2:2,3 In James 2:3, the word “it” indicates a possible consequence “if’ something happens. James knew he was citing events that were already occurring in the church.
  14. 14. James 222,3 In the church, some people may be tempted to try to please the rich person most especially, because he is rich and may contribute financially or in other ways to the church.
  15. 15. James 222,3 Knowing the poor person may not have anything of material value to give and may need something material from the church, or knowing the dirty person may make someone feel uncomfortable, some in the church may be tempted to treat the poor person with disrespect or with less respect than they treat others.
  16. 16. James 222,3 In the church especially, James warned against treating rich people better than poor people. In the church, Christians should show love to rich and poor alike.
  17. 17. James 2:2,3 Favoritism is the root cause. The wealthy churchgoer is dressed in fancy apparel and wears an impressive gold ring. He is quickly ushered to the best seat in the house. The poor man in dirty clothing is relegated to sitting on the floor or standing during the service. When this happens, James declared, you have discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts.
  18. 18. James 2:4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
  19. 19. James 2:4 No follower of Jesus Christ should treat others unequally just because of their financial status and the clothing they can afford, especially when they come to church. Believers need to be very careful not to treat others differently based solely on their outward appearance.
  20. 20. James 2:4 Everyone is equally entitled to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Bible without being disproportionately honored or mistreated because of their appearance. People judge with evil thoughts when they treat people unequally because of their wealth or status in the world and so damage their witness to the truth.
  21. 21. James 2:4 The Apostle Paul wrote against making “distinctions among yourselves, ” saying, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). If we do not truly love others as God loves us and as Jesus expressed the love of God for others, then we may have evil thoughts toward others.
  22. 22. James 2:5 Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?
  23. 23. James 2:5 Some Jews looked on earthly prosperity as a mark of divine favor, while poverty was seen as a sign of God's disfavor. James reminded his readers that those who are poor in the eyes of the world may be rich in faith. Jesus noted that they have high standing in God’s eyes. (Luke 4:18). Moreover, it was the rich—not the poor—who were exploiting the Christians.
  24. 24. James 2:5 Jesus cared for both the rich and the poor according to their real needs, both material and spiritual. God has chosen many poor people to be “rich in faith”: the poor can have an abundant faith in God, knowing God is their only hope and God has an inheritance for them in His Kingdom.
  25. 25. James 2:5 Riches and the things of this world can crowd God and following Jesus out of the lives of some rich people. Jesus felt sad when the rich young man walked away from Him because he preferred his riches to following Him as Lord (see Matthew 19:21 -24). Jesus said it was hard or difficult, but not impossible, for rich people to enter the Kingdom of God.
  26. 26. James 2:6, 7 but you have dishonored the poor. is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?
  27. 27. James 2:6, 7 James rebuked these people by declaring “you have dishonored the poor. ” He wanted the disciples to know that the poor can be dishonored in many ways, including giving the rich preferential treatment over the poor in the church.
  28. 28. James 2:6, 7 He declared that all Christians must not dishonor rich or poor, but treat all believers as valued children of God. He felt much could be learned from those who are “rich in faith, ” whether rich or poor. Specifically, rich Christians (including rich unbelievers) should not oppress others or drag others into court to increase their power or wealth.
  29. 29. James 2:6, 7 The rich sometimes unjustly used their wealth to profit from those who cannot afford to defend themselves.
  30. 30. James 2:6, 7 A. T. Robertson noted, “The Sadducees will not even call the name of Jesus when they discuss the case of Peter and John. They refer with contempt to ‘this name’ (Acts 4:17). The disciples rejoiced, however, ‘that they were counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name”’ (Acts 5:41).
  31. 31. James 2:6, 7 Those who are financially poor are often proved to be rich toward God (Luke 12:21). Jesus said that Heaven belongs to the truly poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3; Luke 6:20).
  32. 32. James 2:6, 7 Jesus’ standard of behavior and morality are often ignored and ridiculed by those who use their riches to act contrary to the express will of God in the Bible; who use their riches to fulfill their pleasures knowing that Christians do not live that way.
  33. 33. James 2:8 You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ” But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
  34. 34. James 2:8 The royal law of love for God and others often moved believers to try to live as Jesus lived before the world. James knew that when believers consider or love themselves, they can think of how they would want to be treated and then try to treat the poor in ways that avoid unjust partiality when trying to do what God would want to help the poor.
  35. 35. James 2:8 When the followers of Jesus Christ loved others as they love themselves, they naturally and supernaturally treated each person as of equal importance to themselves; they never sought to mistreat or take unjust advantage of others. They did not show partiality.
  36. 36. James 2:8 For political or other selfish reasons, James knew some showed partiality toward the poor. Some showed partiality toward the poor because they wanted to ‘‘look good” before the world or they wanted the support of the needy masses.
  37. 37. James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.
  38. 38. James 2:10 Andrew McNab observed, “The apostle now anticipates a possible objection. Why make so much of this matter of respect of persons? It is only a single offence, and it is surely not to be taken so seriously. He rebuts this argument by pointing out that the whole law is broken through failure at any one point. ”
  39. 39. James 2:10 James understood that to fulfill the whole law is to love God completely, which enabled believers to rightly love others and themselves in ways approved by God; yet some continued think love for others means ignoring or not judging what others do no matter how they break the laws of God and harm others and themselves.
  40. 40. James 2:10 Those who did not have true faith in Jesus Christ came to think that love had no moral standards. James knew that no one could be saved by obeying the law, and that God still expected everyone to love Him and their neighbors; and when believers fail to love rightly, He expects them to repent and not make excuses for their disobedience.
  41. 41. James 2:11 For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery, ” also said, “You shall not murder. ” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.
  42. 42. James 2:11 Some people were very selective about what parts of God's law they will obey and what parts they will disobey. In this verse, James noted two of the Ten Commandments as examples which everyone understood and supported. James warned everyone against transgressing the law of God in any way.
  43. 43. James 2:11 Partiality would be giving a rich murderer a lighter sentence than a poor murderer just because one is rich and the other is poor.
  44. 44. James 2:12, 13 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
  45. 45. James 2:12, 13 The law of liberty is the law of love. When someone truly loves God from their heart and when they truly follow Jesus because they love Him, they have been liberated from slavery to sin and they have been freed to follow the Holy Spirit in the way they treat others.
  46. 46. James 2:12, 13 James taught that to experience liberty or feel liberated from focusing on the law while at same time did not violate the law of God or the Bible’s teachings because the loving Holy Spirit within them guides and empowers them to obey the Scriptures.
  47. 47. James 2:12, 13 Mercy gives people the opportunity to repent, come to saving faith, and change; therefore, showing mercy can do more for people than passing judgment upon them: “mercy triumphs overjudgment. ” However, James reminded his readers in this verse that judgment is possible and some will receive just judgment with no mercy.
  48. 48. James 2:12, 13 Albert Barnes added, ‘‘In all our conduct we are to act under the constant impression of the truth that we are soon to be brought into judgment, and that the law by which we are to be judged is that by which it is contemplated that we shall be set free from the dominion of sin. ”
  49. 49. Conclusions James is concerned that the faith of Jesus Christ would be diluted or worse polluted by followers who gave only lip service to the life and message of Christ. He called on them not only to have a change of heart and repent but also to live that life in a manner worthy of Christ.
  50. 50. Conclusions James warned believers that showing favoritism to wealthier or more powerful people over the poorer or weaker was a flagrant sin against God. They would be held accountable.
  51. 51. Conclusions To the rich and powerful, James pointed out that their wealth can cause them to depend less on Christ and more on themselves. James was concerned about their salvation as well and warned them to guard against such behaviors as they will find it more difficult to honor God if they do not understand why they were given such wealth.
  52. 52. Conclusions In fact, James points out that a man’s true wealth lies in the amount of faith that he can demonstrate. That is wealth drawn from the riches of heaven which shall not fade or perish.
  53. 53. Conclusions James was especially concerned that showing love to one another based on a person’s merit in life could alter their perception of faith in Christ. They might be tempted to think one can be more worthy of faith which is completely false.
  54. 54. Conclusions To make his point, James reminds them that to break one law is to fail the whole law and so none of us can claim any sense of perfection or honor over another. Repentance is always our first response to partiality.
  55. 55. Conclusions James concludes by describing how we treat one another will serve to determine how we ourselves are treated at judgment. For those who show mercy, the Lord will show mercy and our very judgment will reflect how we judged people here on earth.
  56. 56. Conclusions Christians are called to cross the barriers of prejudice and animosity. We are not to embrace the petty hatreds of the world. We have been set free from them as we were received by Christ with no respect to our sin or condition. Partiality has no place with the believer.