Brad Libolt speaking on James 2:1-7. He spoke about partiality; how Jesus opposed it and how often we show it. Reminding us that Jesus was rich in heaven with the Father and became poor on earth for our sake.
James 2: 1-4
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
- Anyone know Star Wars and specifically the character Yoda? I was recently watching Star Wars: Clone Wars. The droids were hunting Yoda down, and as the battalion was going to surround him, we see Yoda criss cross and single handedly destroys the droids? The droids’ mistake is that they made a false judgement on Yoda. They think he’s old and weak, and couldn’t take all of them at once. In the same way, James is discussing how we can make false judgements on people based on their looks and actions.
- Being partial means showing favoritism. We are to show no partiality because we have faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus completely opposed partiality. He didn’t show favoritism, but treated everyone with the same love and presented them with the same truth. If we truly have faith in Jesus Christ and believe in him, then we should not show partiality.
- James then gives an example:
- Say a man comes in and he has the nicest clothes on with expensive jewelry and accessories, and then another man comes in with ratty and tattered clothing thats all dirty and gross. If you give the man with nice clothes the best seat and make the other man stand in the back or sit on the ground, then you have shown partiality.
- Not only have you shown partiality or favoritism, but it says you have judged with evil thoughts. This is pretty intense. We know we aren’t supposed to judge others, and James is saying if you show favoritism, then you are judging with evil thoughts.
- So what does this look like for us? Are there kids in your school or in youth group, or maybe even in the room now who you show partiality towards? Do you hang out with the kids who have nice clothes and cool stuff and neglect the ones who don’t have those things? Or maybe it goes deeper than just financial status, and maybe there are kids who are different from you, maybe you think they are “weird” or annoying, so you ignore them or don’t hang out with them or even push them to the side because you don’t like them. This is partiality too. Don’t judge people by their outward appearance.
- See the point here is that we should not show favoritism. Jesus never did, and it is not God’s heart to show love to some and not others. We need to treat everyone the same way. And if this is hard for us to do, then we need to pray about it. We should ask God to give us a heart for those who aren’t like us, or maybe have less than us, or those we want nothing to do with. Ask God to take away the partiality and favoritism you show to people.
James 2: 5-7
5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
- James then explains more about why this is wrong. Remember it isn’t in the character of God to show partiality, we don’t see Jesus’ ministry showing partiality. The gospel isn’t for a select few, it’s open to everyone.
- More than that, God has chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith. People who are poor by the world’s standards, those who are financially poor, are the people that Jesus specifically reached out to with the gospel. This doesn’t mean that wealthy people don’t inherit the kingdom, God isn’t partial towards them either. But the key there is what God has promised to those who love him.
- Whoever loves God will inherit the kingdom of heaven, rich or poor. But the Bible also tells us that it is harder for a rich person to love God because of all the stuff they have. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible, the key is loving God. Sometimes money can get in the way of truly loving God, and Jesus showed that in his ministry in the gospels. He went to the poor because they didn’t have a financial hindrance keeping them from loving God. For those of us who are believers, we extend the gospel to all, and we are impartial to who the gospel is sent to.
- James wants his readers to see that we need to treat everyone the same, regardless of if they are rich or poor. It is in the heart and character of God to love everyone, and offer salvation to everyone. Anyone who loves God will inherit the kingdom of heaven, including poor people, so we need to extend the offer of salvation to them as well.
- What is cool about this idea of the rich and the poor is that Jesus was both. In heaven Jesus was rich. He had everything he could ever need or want, a perfect relationship in the presence of God the Father. But He gave that up. He gave up those riches and that wealth to come down and be poor for us. He became financially poor as a human, and spiritually poor on the cross. He lost everything, including for a split moment that relationship with the Father. Jesus became poor so that the poor on the earth, both financially and spiritually, could become rich in the kingdom of God. And these riches aren’t gold or silver or nice clothes, but it is the presence of God, all of his glory, for us to experience and enjoy. When we get to experience that we will be rich beyond imagination.