James 2:1-13 “Dont Be Partial” (audio file)
Fourth week of James.
Last week we looked at a passage that dealt with how we receive the Word of God. As I have said from the beginning, the things that James points out for us are not things that will make us more Holy, but he wants to draw out for us symptoms of a deeper problem. You see, just as in our time, there were people in James’ day that wrongly assumed that “belief” in Christ was enough for them to be saved. They looked at the good news as something to act like a ticket out of Heaven. That if they had it, they were good, and they could take the ticket and put it in their pocket and go on their way. There are people like that in our day, are there not? Have you ever had a friend at work or school, and you had known them for a long time, maybe even years, and you knew them well. You always thought they were ann unbeliever, until maybe you got up the strength to ask them if they wanted to go to church, or maybe some other spiritual conversation, and to your surprise, they informed you that they are a Christian, and attend church regularly. Quickly, you flash back to conversations and interactions where there was anger, or statements that were clearly contradictory to God’s word, or maybe they displayed apathy to those who were less fortunate. What do you say to them in that case? “Oh great, you have your ticket? Me too!” Then proceed to go on as you were before? Well, James has much to say about those people. He says as we talked about last week that they are deceived. He reminded us that anger, apathy, and self righteousness all spring from a heart that has heard the Word of God, but not received it as they should with meekness. They have heard it for someone else, or they have heard it and forgotten, or they have heard it as a hoop that they are supposed to jump through. So, if you are a person who has a short wick, you get frustrated, or angry easily, or maybe you are apathetic to the word, you read it or hear it and walk away and don’t obey what it says, or maybe you consider yourself good to go on the Bible, so you coast on your past knowledge, and don’t search out new areas of growth. James says that you are deceived, and that your religion is worthless. That you need to humble yourself, and receive with meekness the implanted Word of God.
This week we will see James take the similar stance with how we treat people around us. He wants to expose more of our own hearts to us. Like I said last week we all have our favorite verses that we are good at naturally, and we tend to feel good about ourselves when we read those verses, or we look down on others that aren’t so good at that one verse, but when other verses are brought to our attention, we make excuses, or brush off the command. Think for a minute as your heart as a house. you have a living room and bed rooms and you have closets right, and just like your own house, there are rooms you invite guests into, and rooms that you shove all the trash into when you have guests coming over. Now lets say you have a dog, and it is not totally potty trained and has a few accidents in the living room. So what do you do? You throw a rug down to cover up the stain, or you rearrange the sofa to cover it. In this passage, the holy Spirit through James, takes us into the living room of our heart, pulls back the sofa and shows us the doggie stains that we have covered up. Then he opens up the hall closet and lets all the kids toys you shoved in there come out on the floor. Then he heads for the upstairs. What are we shouting? Stop already!!! Right? we want him to give it a rest, so what, you got me, Im not perfect! We want to justify and defend right, keep them out. Now to take this a step further, imagine you have a mold problem, or maybe fleas, or here’s one people are a little afraid of, bedbugs. Now when you call an exterminator to come and destroy these little blood suckers, are you going to hide your bedroom from them? Are you going to have rooms that are off limits? Not if your are smart, because if you leave one pocket, one little haven for those creatures, they will only find their way back into the rest of the house. So, why have I spent time talking about this with you? Because some of you treat Christ as a neighbor, dropping by to say hi, and to make nice talk and keep safely in the living room where all the trash is hidden and stains covered up, when Christ is really like the Exterminator, you’ve got issues that you cant handle, and he is coming to destroy them. So before we read let me ask you to do something, Let Him take over! Let him see all of your heart and let him deal with all the infestations he finds!
So, lets read…
So, here is the big idea for today: If you don’t want the poor, you don’t want Jesus. How? Well what I want to do is contrast what we do when we are partial, and how that is different from what God is like.
When we are partial we:
- You make yourself a judge. v.4. This places you on the judgement seat of God.
- You dishonor the poor man. v.6
- You are in violation of all the law and subject to judgment. v.9-12 Good Samaritan.
- Judge without Mercy. v.13
In contrast, God through Christ..
- Has a special place in his heart for the poor. v.5
- Fulfilled all the commands of the law. So he has the right to sit on the Judgment seat
- Showed us incredible mercy on the cross… If James is right and when we break one command, we are guilty of all of it, then you should be feeling the weight of your need for a savior.
Now here is the hard word for us in this passage, James says that to those show no mercy, none will be given. Which is saying in essence that those who show partiality and judge based solely on the outward appearance, no matter what that is from, either wealth, or race, or gender, he is saying that people who understand mercy don’t do that, so they need to check their salvation… Let me tie this together for you. If you are rejecting people based on their outward appearance, you probably wouldn’t want Jesus.
Here is what I mean,
If you can got there quickly, go to Isaiah 53. READ….
See what I mean?
Jesus was poor, he was not attractive. He was rejected by the religious leaders because he did not meet their expectations of the Messiah. If you judge by the outward appearance, you are no different than them.
So, what do we do with this hard word for us? Well, as I said before, we need to let the Holy Spirit into the rooms of our heart and destroy whatever infestation is in there, and receive His mercy, the mercy that triumphs over judgement. You may need to receive Jesus. You may need to confess your sin, and turn to him and look into the Law of Liberty. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
If you are convicted in your heart, the last thing you need to think is, “we’ll, I guess I need to not show partiality if I want to be a Christian.” Instead, what James wants us to do is throw ourselves on his mercy. And trust in His finished work on the cross. Let Him change your nature and give you a new heart, a heart that beats for Him.
In the same way an apple tree produces apples. Apple trees produce apples, and he is saying that if you are producing pears, you are not an apple tree.
Now, before I finish, I want to say that in my experience at this church, I have not seen this…