Text: James 2:1-13 8/9/09 a.m.
Thesis: The gospel empowers and demands a sacrificial love for others.
Intro: Jesus Christ is glorious.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. By him all things were created, in heaven and on earth…all things were created through him and for him.
Jesus is bigger and better than all things. In him all things hold together. In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.
Jesus is the heir of all things. Jesus is the creator of the world.
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.
Jesus upholds the universe by the word of his power.
After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Jesus is superior over everything (Colossians 1 & Hebrews 1).
As his people it is our joy to look at him and be transformed into his image (2 Cor 3:18).
As his people we are freed to live lives joyfully serving others and sacrificially loving others.
God loved us and freed us when we had nothing to offer him. God did not serve us in order to get something from us. While we were filthy and rebellious he poured out his love upon us.
Jesus Christ is better than everything. God is loving and merciful.
Now that we belong to God he expects us to obey his word. And we could sum up God’s commands with the words, “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love your wife as yourself. Love your family as yourself. Love your coworker as yourself. Love your next door neighbor as your self. Love your enemy as yourself.
To be a neighbor to anyone is to give to anyone in need regardless of the cost.
Since all this is true it is ridiculous to think of a Christian or a church playing favorites in order to get special treatment from someone who has money.
Showing partiality is utterly incompatible with the glory of Christ and the person of God.
Let’s look into God’s word and through it become equipped for every good work.
Read James 2:1-13
I) The glory of Christ triumphs over partiality (v. 1)
a) Verse 1 is addressed to Christians; those individuals who having been saved by grace now seek to live lives that are faithful to the king of grace.
i) Do you see how living the Christian life is portrayed in verse 1? As you hold the faith.
ii) Here Christianity is pictured as an action that defines your life. Holding the faith is being ruled by or guided by faith. Clinging to faith is what you do.
iii) This is your defining character trait precisely because of who your faith is in.
iv) Your faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. You’re holding the faith that is empowered by the most glorious being that has ever and will ever exist.
v) This Jesus, our Lord and Savior, is greater than anything and better than everything.
vi) He is the Lord of glory. He is the most glorious.
vii) And he is yours. Because you have faith in Christ you have Christ. Holding faith is having Christ.
viii) When you turn to Christ you will never receive anything better than Jesus Christ.
ix) Eternity is forever precisely because we need that much time to truly enjoy what it is to be satisfied by this glorious Jesus. Jesus is that good and he is yours.
b) So, how can Christians show partiality and hold the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory?
i) We can’t. We can’t be satisfied by Christ while using others for selfish gain.
ii) If we have the most glorious and valuable thing, if we have Christ, why are we kissing up to rich people?
iii) What can they give us that is better than Jesus? What can they do for us that is better than what Jesus has done and will do? Is money better than God?
iv) Showing partiality to individuals in order to gain something from them is fundamentally incompatible with the truth of the gospel. We have Jesus!
v) When we show partiality, honoring someone based upon outward appearances, we are saying that they can give us something better than Jesus.
vi) In the Greek, show no partiality is plural, “show no partialities”. This is more than just giving undue respect to the rich over the poor.
vii) Showing partiality is honoring one skin color over another. Showing partiality is honoring one sex over another.
viii) Showing partiality must not, does not, and will not go together with the glorious nature of Jesus Christ.
II) Partiality is wrong because it is judging people according to sinful motivations. (read 3-4)
a) It is never wrong to discern the difference between people based upon biblical criteria.
i) It is never wrong to discern the difference between people for the purpose of doing biblical good.
ii) 1 Corinthians 5:12 tells us that we are supposed to judge those inside the church.
iii) 1 Corinthians 6:2 tells us that the saints will judge the world. The problem is not making honest evaluations.
b) James is condemning the practice of honoring one person while shaming another person in order to advance self at the expense of others.
i) The thing desired can be money, or influence, or recognition, or simply an easier life.
ii) When you or the church honors a person who looks powerful and rich because you hope to get something from that rich person that is an evil desire.
iii) When we shame a person who looks poor because we are sure we can’t get anything from that poor person that is a sinful judgment.
iv) Showing partiality is reducing people to nothing more than a means to our own selfish ends.
v) So, partiality is wrong because it is based on selfish motives.
III) Partiality is also wrong because it is incompatible with the nature of God (vs. 5&6a)
a) Don’t miss verse 5
i) Listen, my beloved brothers. I love you and this is important.
b) God has made that person rich
i) Verse 5 mentions God’s choosing, his election, of an individual for the purpose of blessing the individual.
ii) The world thinks that individual is poor; poor in regards to money and clothing and influence. The world thinks that person is worthless and insignificant but the world is wrong.
iii) God has chosen that poor person that you are dishonoring for the purpose of making him rich.
iv) Not rich in money. Not rich in what is temporal and unstable but rich in faith; not rich in moth food.
v) Though he may look poor he is rich. He has Jesus. He has eternal life. He has the stability and strength of the creator and ruler of the universe.
vi) He is an heir of the kingdom verse 5 tells us. That guy gets everything that is good that will always satisfy and never depreciate in value.
vii) He has the person, power, and presence of the glorious Christ and you treat him shamefully because he doesn’t have a big pile of pennies?
viii) The guy who appears to be poor by the world’s standards loves God and God has promised him the kingdom. How can we look down on him?
ix) Because God loves him and has chosen and honored him we contradict God by favoring the wealthy.
x) Don’t show partiality to the rich and dishonor the poor in order to gain something that won’t last.
xi) Showing partiality is fighting against God.
IV) Showing partiality to your oppressor is foolishness (v. 6b)
a) The unbelieving rich oppress and confiscate
i) The rich are the ones who wrongfully use their money-bought power in order to rule over you.
ii) They are making the lives of the church difficult in order to make their pockets fatter.
iii) The rich are dragging the church into court in order to go through the legal process of stealing another person’s property.
iv) Just because you hold the note doesn’t make it right.
v) So the picture is a rich person using and abusing the church and then when he walks into the church the church treats him like a king.
vi) The church must never treat unrepentant sinners as kings. Do not treat an heir of hell like royalty.
vii) Treat the heirs of the kingdom like royalty.
viii) Showing partiality to your oppressor is foolishness.
V) Showing partiality to a blasphemer is foolishness (v. 7)
a) The unbelieving rich are opening slandering the name of Christ.
i) God chose you to be an heir according to the working of Christ.
ii) God implanted the word of Christ in you in order to save you.
iii) God brought you forth by the word of truth; the very gospel of Jesus Christ.
iv) You are a Christian. You are called by the honorable, glorious, and magnificent name of Christ.
v) And all that guy can do is talk bad about Christ. All he can do is run the gospel of Christ and the church through the mud.
vi) He uses God’s name like it’s a curse word; like God’s name is no better than excrement.
vii) And what do you do? You’re going to honor him?
viii) You’re going to exalt the blaspheming reviler of Christ while dishonoring the humble joint heir with Christ?
ix) Showing partiality to a blasphemer is a ridiculous thought. May we repent of the undo honor we have shown to those who despise, mock, and abuse the people and name of Jesus Christ.
VI) Loving everyone must be our standard (v. 8)
a) The cure for partiality in any form is believing the gospel and obeying the gospel
i) The gospel is the good news that through faith we have been given the glorious presence of Jesus Christ.
ii) Obeying the gospel means living according to the royal law. This is an interesting phrase, “the royal law.”
iii) ‘Royal’ comes from the same root word that also gives us the word ‘kingdom’ in verse 5.
iv) Those who belong to the kingdom follow the rules of the kingdom.
v) The law as laid down and testified to in both the old and new testaments on the lips of Moses and on the lips of Jesus is easy to understand, “love your neighbor as yourself.”
vi) Care for the current and future needs of others with the same care and diligence that you care for your own current and future needs.
vii) If you do this, if you really fulfill this royal law, you’re doing pretty good. You are on the right track headed in the right direction.
viii) So, we are not being told to hate all rich people.
ix) That’s good news because by all fair standards everyone in this room is rich compared to the rest of the people living on this earth right now.
x) Love your neighbor if he’s rich or poor. Give what is needed. Say what is needed. Do what is needed.
xi) Love everyone and do not exalt what is worldly and selfish acting like a man with money is better than Jesus Christ.
xii) It’s easy to love people who are similar to us. It’s easy to love people our own age who do what we do.
xiii) But if all you do is love the people who are like you then this is sin.
VII) Those who show partiality are sinful transgressors of the law (vs. 9-11)
a) If you make distinctions between people based on selfish motives then you are sinning and the law of God labels you as a transgressor.
i) Now that sounds harsh doesn’t it? Just because you’d rather sit by a white person when you ride on the bus or the airplane isn’t a big deal.
ii) Just because you think that people who speak English are better than people who speak only Spanish isn’t all that bad.
iii) Here’s the honest truth: if you keep your nose clean and love your wife and don’t look at porn; if you don’t kill anyone and if you even keep your anger in check, but if you show partiality to levels of income or skin color then God’s label for you is “transgressor”.
iv) Disobedient one. Law breaker. If you break just one commandment then you are accountable for it all.
v) Why? Because we sin every sin because we love ourselves more than we love God and neighbor.
vi) If we loved God and neighbor faithfully and passionately like Christ loves God and neighbor then we wouldn’t sin.
vii) It doesn’t matter what the sin is; it doesn’t matter if we label it a big sin or a little sin.
viii) Every sin you commit is a choice to love yourself, show partiality to yourself, instead of loving your neighbor.
ix) By now you should be thinking that you are in deep trouble. If you sin every sin because you do not love your neighbor and doing well is loving your neighbor then how will anyone survive God’s judgment?
VIII) Your day for judgment is coming; show mercy (vs. 12&13)
a) Let’s start with 13. Judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy.
i) If you do not give mercy to the undeserving sinner then guess what? You, the undeserving sinner will not be given mercy.
ii) You have judgment on one hand and mercy on the other. Which one will have the final say?
iii) Mercy triumphs over judgment. Praise God mercy wins. Praise the Lord that grace abounds with all power.
iv) But it only does so for those who show mercy. This is not earning mercy. This is holding the faith in the glorious Christ and showing no partiality.
v) This is a right understanding of the gospel. I have been shown mercy. God has given me what I do not deserve.
vi) The royal law that he gives me as an heir of the kingdom is not one that shackles me.
vii) The royal law that drives me to love others liberates me. The gospel of Jesus Christ empowers me to go and live a life that is in step with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
viii) So that means I’m going to speak to people and about people like a person who knows what it is to be forgiven of the most terrible of sins.
ix) I’m going to speak to people and about people like a person who knows what it is to be shown mercy when we deserve eternal punishment.
x) And I’m going to act like a person who has been shown the unmerited, unearned, and undeserved mercy of God.
xi) That means I am going to show mercy not because I have to but because I am overwhelmed by the fact that I have been shown mercy.
xii) This is Matthew 18, the parable of the unforgiving servant, applied specifically to partiality in the church.
xiii) If you care only about yourself, showing partiality to yourself and refusing to give mercy to the undeserving, then you will be given no mercy.
xiv) Mercy triumphs over judgment. God stands ready to forgive you this morning. God stands ready to give life to you this morning. God is here to give you the kingdom and make you rich in faith.
xv) He knows that you are a dirt bag and that’s what makes mercy what it is; He knows your sins but because of his love for you he sent Christ for you so that you would be satisfied by the glory of Christ and not by the things of this world.
IX) So here’s the punch line: many of us this morning are oppressing the poor because of our standard of living.
a) I’m not saying you’re confiscating the property of the poor because they can’t afford a lawyer and you can.
b) I’m saying that because of our habits and hobbies we are dishonoring the poor.
c) Because we have chosen a standard of living that “we deserve because we earned it”, some of us are choking the poor.
d) I am not saying that ownership is wrong or hard work is wrong. I am not saying that possessing wealth is wrong.
e) I’m saying that the rich person I show the most partiality to is me and the rich person you show the most partiality to is you.
f) The liberating law of God is calling us this morning to stop wasting our time and energy and money on ourselves.
g) Stop living a life that by your very pursuits blasphemes the name of Christ saying that having stuff is better than having Christ.
h) You come to church, you walk into the assembly with your fine clothing, but the farthest thing from your mind is showing mercy to the poor in the name of Jesus Christ.
i) And throwing money at the poor is not honoring the poor.
j) Loving the poor like you love yourself is honoring the poor.
k) So where do we start? We start with honesty concerning our sin. Showing partiality is committing sin; it’s foolish and contrary to the nature of God.
l) Don’t just tell God you are sorry that people are poor. Repent because you are not broken over sinful waste and selfishness that is excused in your midst.
m) Then go and do what God would have you to do. God wants to use each of us in different capacities to expand his kingdom through his church.
n) Let me suggest this prayer: God what unnecessary thing do you want me to give up so that your gospel can make the greatest impact on the poor?
- o) God where do you want me to give so that your gospel can make the greatest impact on the poor?
p) Prescribing one thing or one ministry is too easy. God wants all that you are to be satisfied by Jesus Christ.
q) God wants that satisfaction to overflow as you give sacrificially for the good of others.