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James 2:1-13: Are you sizing others up?

Introduction

We tend to judge others without even thinking about it!

  • How do you size others up?
  • When you see someone enter the church by themselves, how do you decide to interact with them?
  • What causes you to raise an eyebrow? Tattoos? Hair coloring? Bare shoulders? Torn jeans? Strappy sandals or spiked high heels?
  • Who are the people you would seat at the back of the church?
  • Who are the people you consider to be influential that you want to befriend?
  • Whose name do you like to drop in conversation with others?

Judging a book by its cover

Take no notice of his looks or his height. He is not the one, for the Eternal One does not pay attention to what humans value. Humans only care about the external appearance, but the Eternal considers the inner character.

1 Sauel 16:7 VOICE

When the Prophet Samuel was sent to Jesse’s house to annoint a new king for Israel, Jesse brought out his sons one by one. Samuel noticed Eliab, sized him up, and from his appearance determined that he would surely be God’s anointed. That’s when God said those words that are familiar to many, “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Eliab was not God’s chosen servant, but the youngest son tending the sheep, David, was the one God selected that day. In Acts, the Apostle Paul confirms that David was a man after God’s own heart!

What’s wrong with favoritism?

Why is showing favoritism to some and judging others so wrong?

Showing partiality is never good, yet some will do wrong for a mere piece of bread.

Proverbs 28:21 NLT

Do not twist justice in legal matters by favoring the poor or being partial to the rich and powerful. Always judge people fairly.

Leviticus 19:15 NLT

The words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. But you priests have left God’s paths. … For you have not obeyed me but have shown favoritism in the way you carry out my instructions.

Malachi 2:7-9 NLT

Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.

Acts 10:34-35 NLT

He will judge everyone according to what they have done. … For God does not show favoritism.

Romans 2:6, 11 NLT

In His word, God speaks against favoritism, and teaches that He Himself does not play favorites! If we were to examine our motives carefully, our showing favoritism often has to do with our pride, greed, or lack of love!

Note, there is no inherent sin in being wealthy, nor no inherent righteousness in being poor. Instead the sin is in discriminating according to wealth, popularity, or appearances. We are all human, all worthy of moral dignity or individual worth in God’s eyes. We have yet to meet a person for whom Jesus did not die, or a person who God does not love and want as His child! This is why we extend His love – because He first loved us.

A man or woman’s greatness might be determined by the sacrifice, love, and generosity they show toward people who are in no position to benefit them personally at all.

The “royal” law of love

 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 

James 2:8 NIV

When we show partiality we break the royal law of love. And James is clear – if we break a part of the law, we’ve broken the whole thing!

The standard you use?

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

Matthew 7:1-2 NLT

Many of the statements in James mirror the Beatitudes. And certainly this last admonition is closely related to Jesus’ words. James says to talk and act kindly, mercifully, because we will be judged by the same law. This last statement is significant … mercy triumphs over judgment. If we are going to err in our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s err on the side of mercy!

Discriminating against others over color, status, fashion, or appearance has no place in the church.

There was a time when we were clothed in filthy rags, filled with our own self-righteousness. But now God clothes us with His regal robes of true and perfect righteousness. He didn’t choose us because we were good, special, beautiful or talented – we had no desirable traits! Instead He chose us simply because He loved us. He embraced us with His mercy! It’s that same mercy He calls us to share with all those in our path.

Prayer

Father, You became poor for our sake
Humbling Yourself, becoming like us,
Dying a criminal’s death
So that through Your poverty we might become rich,
Having a right relationship with You
A righteousness not our own but
The free gift of salvation, sonship –
Forgive our sins of partiality, favoritism, hypocrisy –
Restore in us a right understanding of Your love
For all those on the same path as we are –
May we see the world as You see it –
Loving each human with the same love
So that Your mercy flows through us
Pointing our world to Jesus – Who is all in all.
And we give thanks to the Father, in Jesus’ name
Though the power of the Spirit –
Amen.

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