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? 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? 5 Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? 6 But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? 7 Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear? 8 Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 9 But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law. 10 For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. 11 For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law. 12 So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. 13 There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.
Instead of treating others based on man’s motives we need to:
- Treat people based on God’s purposes (2:5-7)
James’ words here are almost a quote from the first Beatitude Jesus opened His Sermon on the Mount with in Matthew 5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Does that mean that we have to sell everything and go live in a monastery? No, that misses the point. The point is that God has a purpose in the way He treats people. Unfortunately, so does man in his natural state. How many times have you heard the phrase, “God helps those who help themselves?” Sadly, many Christians think that this is a quote from the Bible, which is sad on a couple of counts. First, it’s sad because people aren’t familiar enough with their Bible to recognize what’s in it and what’s not. But the saddest part is that we would believe a phrase that goes completely contrary to the entire message of the Bible. Look God isn’t there to give us a boost when we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. No, He takes people who are sinners and makes them saints. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Why would God treat us that way? Why does He exalt the humble and humble the exalted? Ephesians 1:5-6 tells us: “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.” God treats people with grace so that He gets the glory and we exalt Him above all. Above all circumstances, above all trials, above all tests. While God’s purpose is that He will be exalted, apart from Him, our purpose is that we will be exalted. It goes back to our innate selfishness. Verse 6 says that we despised the poor. Why do we look down on those who have less than we do? Why do we focus on the flaws of others? Why do we gossip about people who are having troubles? Why do we highlight negative things about each other? Why do we cut and bite and tear at each other? Because we’re trying to exalt ourselves. An easy way to look big is to belittle those around you. Think about your conversations over the last week. Did you spend more words exalting God or yourself? God is not exalted by words that despise, words that oppress, words which show partiality and exalt. If you call yourself a Christian, don’t you think God is the one who should be exalted by the way you treat others not you? Are you making it about your preference or God’s purpose? Are you treat others in light of God’s purpose and exulting people made in His image or self? You will either pursue people based on God’s purpose or mans. I want to encourage you to take some time to examine the way you talk to and treat those in your family. Are you kind and loving, or do you make your interactions more about self than serving? It’s easy to show partiality in our families it’s one of the generational sins we see passed down from Abraham to Isaac, to Jacob. They all had a favorite son and it led to jealousy and hatred. We all struggle with selfishness, and sometimes we treat those closest to us worse than those furthest from us. So, make a commitment to care for those in your care, to be Jesus and not a jerk. So how are you treating those around you? Are you treat them based on God’s purposes or man’s motives?