The KJV of James 2:1 reads this way: “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.”
I have had to read this verse over and over and over again and finally paraphrased it by forming this verse into a question: ‘How can I profess to have the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ…if I am a respecter of persons? The Answer? I cannot have the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ…that is, have a faith that is in accordance with Who He is and who it is I am to be if I am to live a life that is pleasing to God. The word ‘faith’ in this verse is the same as in James 1:6: ‘persuasion; belief’ fidelity’.
Taking another look at this verse, the Apostle Paul is speaking to believers; he calls them ‘brethren’. It is not a question, but a command. Paul is saying quite plainly, the brethren must not show partiality in dealing with people; there is no room in my walk of faith for partiality.
Strong’s Concordance: respect – 4382 – ‘favoritism’.
As I cross-reference back into Leviticus 19, I find Moses speaking speaking to the congregation of the children of Israel, teaching them about how they are to live their daily lives and in fact in verses 14 and following, Moses gives definite instruction to those who may be more unfortunate due to physical or economical limitations: the deaf, the blind, the poor. Then, he continues, telling them to not favor the mighty.
Some of the ways of showing partiality that Moses warns against: being a talebearer or slandering to the point of endangering someone’s life. Hatred in our hearts (in other places of God’s Word, we learn that hatred is akin to murder), no grudges, but instead he concludes this instruction with God’s command in verse 18b, “…but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.”
We all could probably quote ‘The Golden Rule’, in doing unto others as we would like have done unto us. Although the passage in Leviticus is in the Old Testament, we can find that God’s Word, doesn’t contradict itself at any time, in any place in His Word.
We can find Jesus speaking in Matthew 22:37-39 where He has summarized the Ten Commandments given to Moses into two Great Commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Jesus is quoted again in the Gospel of Mark 12:30-31 repeating these same two ‘Great Commandments’.
In Romans 13:8, Paul writes: ‘Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.’
In Galatians 5:14, again, to ‘love our neighbor as ourself’.
I notice in this first verse of James 2, Jesus is given a title: “the Lord of Glory”. My Ryrie study Bible has a cross-reference over to Hebrews 1:3 where Jesus is referenced to as “…being the brightness of His glory…”. Ryrie’s note says, ‘brightness’ is an effulgence or flood of resplendent light or radiance; “an outshining”, not a reflection.”
Because Jesus, God the Son, is “the Lord of Glory”, resplendent with the brightness of His Father, we, who believe and are called by His Name, should not in any way tarnish or lessen Jesus’ glory by showing partiality, by being a respecter of persons. In light of the fact that one day, the poorest Christian believer and the richest, the least influential believer in this world and the mightiest, the least educated believer with the greatest believing scholar will all be living in Eternity together with Him. We are all the same to Him, if we are saved by grace through faith. He shows no partiality.
Ephesians 2:8,9 and 10: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Jesus saved us, He is our standard, we are to obey His command and “be not a respecter of persons”.
I don’t know about you, but I find this to be sometimes a monumental command to obey. Not in the ways laid out in this post, necessarily. These areas do not phase me as necessarily difficult. I suppose I find it difficult when I line it up with a verse that spoke to me last week from 2 Corinthians 12:15 which says, “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” I find this a weak area for myself…to love as Christ would have me to love and not be loved in return. I think showing partiality also falls into this arena, at least for myself.
The next post we will continue with James 2 as we consider our responses to partiality and its consequences. Is it sin to show partiality? Meet me next time Beyond the Strait Gate and we’ll explore this together.
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