Moments in the life of a Pastor

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23. Test 4: The Preference Test – Part 4

James 2:1-13

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? 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. 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,doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives? 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? But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear? Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 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.

It’s here lastly that James sums it all up by telling us to:

  1. Treating people based on God’s mercy (2:12-13)

The antidote to manmade motives is God’s mercy. Mercy is God not giving us the punishment we deserve for our sins, its deliverance from judgment and jail. It’s a definition that sounds great as long as we are the one on the receiving end of MERCY. When we mess up, we expect to be treated with mercy, but do we offer it to others? Sure, mercy is our go to when we want to get, but what about when it’s time to give? For those of you who are saved what did you do to deserve to be saved? What did you do for God to grant you His mercy? In John 3 Jesus told Nicodemus that unless he was born again, he would not see the kingdom of God. Do you remember all the preparation you had to make before your mom and dad would choose to have you? Do you remember all the cleaning up and all the good works you had to do before you were allowed to be born? Of course not, there was nothing you could say, do, or be that would make you worthy of being born the first time. Just like there is nothing you can say, do, or be that will make you worthy of being born again. Christian the next time you want to treat someone else poorly, remember that while they were yet a sinner, Christ died for them just like He did for you. Jesus willingly shed His blood for both and it’s time for us to recognize that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. I am every bit as undeserving of that gift of grace as you are, as the most offensive person you know is. Remember that without God’s gift of salvation, you are every bit as offensive in God’s eyes as the worst criminal. Are you loving people based on your wants or God’s Word? When we say, but they don’t deserve it we miss God’s mercy and trade Jesus for judging. What cripples Christ’s church is when His followers have a head knowledge of Jesus and hearts full of judgment. Like the Pharisees our hearts become poisoned as pride promotes self at the expense of serving. Like them we see the wayward women through judging eyes instead of Jesus eyes. So instead of serving others we stone them. We end up with a rule-based religion where it’s just easier to kill people than it is to care for them. But what did Jesus say to the woman caught in adultery, “You who are without sin cast the first stone” Neither do I condemn you.” You know why people don’t want to come to church it’s because the church is busy condemning people for their sin instead of bringing them to the cross to be saved. Are you caring or condemning? Caring costs but so does condemning, while caring will cost you time and treasure, condemning will cost you your witness. What’s more important your money or your ministry, your wealth or your witness. Look most people are not looking for a handout they are looking for hope. So, stop clinging to your stones and start clinging to salvation. Let me close by giving you 2 test questions:

Question one: When you see a fellow follower of Christ, do you see their faults and failures? Or do you see the forgiveness of the blood of Jesus?

Question two: When you see a person who is lost, do you see their sinfulness and focus on their bad behavior? Or do you see someone that Jesus loved enough to die for?

Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and show you if there is any poisonous prejudice in your life. Does the way that you treat people back up your testimony and your claim to be a Christian? If there is any place where you are treating people like trash instead of treasuring them, whether that be with your tongue or just in your thoughts I want to encourage you to confess it to Christ and repent of your sin.