Gleanings from James 2:1-13, What We Do, Tells Who We Are

Today we will be considering our responses to partiality and its consequences and also see what Scripture has to say about partiality: Does God consider it to be sin?

To briefly recap: when last we met we find James giving a command to the “brethren”, those who profess the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. The command: to not show partiality in dealing with any person. To show partiality is to misrepresent their faith in the teachings of Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior. The partiality goes beyond what is described in verses 2 and 3, which distinguishes between wealth and social standing, but reaches into every area of where our heart and mind might distinguish a man ‘different’ from ourselves. The great measurement standard must be only this, …loving our neighbour as ourself, God’s second Great Commandment (Mark 12:30-31). However, the second does rely on our response to the first Great Commandment and that would be to “…love the Lord…with all…”. “All” is inclusive of our hearts, our souls, our minds. If truly we loved God as He has told us we should love Him, the second commandment would not be difficult for us at all. Giving obedience to His first commandment would overflow into the second; it would be covered. Herein is the problem, then, if we cannot obey the second: we have not loved God with our “all”.

To not obey God’s command concerning showing partiality to others, we actually have seen ourselves as the standard, as seen in James 2:4, “Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?” When we discriminiate, we judge; God calls this “evil”. We have set ourselves as the standard, that is, what WE think is good, right, honorable. What does that say about us? Don’t look now, but our PRIDE is showing!! That great BIG, UGLY “I” in the middle of pride has reared its head, puffed out its chest and postured itself before others. Not only has this monster emerged from the depths of a heart that has not given God his ‘all’ and made Him first place in their heart and life, it has excluded Him altogether. Certainly God is not in this equation; He is not on the throne of our heart…WE ARE! James 2:4 calls this “evil thoughts”.

James points out in verse 5 that “God hath chosen the poor of this world rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him”.

chosen – 1586 – selected; make choice, choose (out)
poor – 4434 – beggar (as cringing); distressed; pauper
rich – 4145 – wealthy; abounding
love – 25 – (agapao) To love in a social or moral sense – (be)-love(-ed).

What is God’s perspective as He looks at the heart of man? God chooses the man who is rich in faith; the one that loves Him (with all) to be “heir of the kingdom” of God. God has selected/made a choice of those that cringingly beg because of their distressed circumstances (these understand and accept their helplessness) and can only offer to God an abounding (rich) faith in God’s promise and provision of Eternity with Him. These by their very faith is the evidence of how deeply they love God. God loves them with an “agapao” love.

From the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5, we find “poor” described in this manner, verse 3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” Blessed means “happy”, as it relates to the inner qualities of a follower of Jesus Christ. This man is ‘poor’ because he knows he has not yet attained God’s righteousness, but can rely on God’s promise of future blessings with Him in Eternity. The self-righteous “I” person who judges and sets himself as ‘the’ standard, the one who shows partiality, thinks of himself as having already arrived to a standard of righteousness. Not unlike the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.

God’s Word goes on to say in verse 6 that ‘these” self-righteous, respecter of persons, “despise” the “poor”. Certainly, this is not an “agapao” love; it is not how God’s love responds or how we should respond if we claim the name of Christ.

despised – 808 – indecency; (by implication) shame
oppress – 2616 – To exercise dominion against
draw – 1670 – to skin; to drag
judgment (seats) = 2922 – a tribunal (to judge)
blaspheme – 987 – defame; rail on; speak evil

Why do we show partiality to the “poor” and honor “rich of this world” when they oppress us and ready to “have the book thrown at us” if we don’t live up to their self-righteous standards? Do we want to be numbered with them; be like them? Or, do we want to be “numbered” among God’s peculiar people; those who bear His worthy name? Yes, verse 9 says showing partiality; being a respecter of persons as “sin”.

Again, God’s Word reaffirms what our behavior should be: “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well”.

In the verses that follow, vss. 10 and 11, reminds me that if I sin, even in one point of the law, I am guilty of having sinned in all points of the law (God’s Commandments). It doesn’t matter which law I ‘break’…it all points to not having loved the Lord, my God, with “ALL” my heart, soul and mind. That when I sin, as Psalm 51:4 says, I sin against God, Himself. We sometimes tend to think of one sin as being greater than another. Not to God. One sin is the same to Him as another…it is a transgression against Him of His Holy Word. We fall short; we miss His mark of righteousness. To do anything less than obedience to God and His Word is sin. But, on the other hand, to obey God and His Word places us in a a place to “be judged by the law of liberty.”. It is when we obey God and His Word that we have true freedom. When we sin, we entangle ourselves with it’s chains of bondage.

James closes out this portion of chapter 2 concerning partiality by speaking of God’s judgment concerning our responses. We can approach that day of judgment without fear or shame of how we have lived here on earth, if we are a saved believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, according to Scripture.

I John 4:17-18 says this: “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love”.

Thank you for stepping Beyond the Strait Gate again today. I hope you will return again when we continue with Gleanings from James and conclude chapter 2, discussing ‘faith and works’. Some are under the misconception that in order to get to Heaven, we need to “work” our way there by doing things that will ‘rack up points’ in reaching a place of favor with God, so that He allows us entry into Heaven, Eternity with Him. Not according to Scripture. However, there is a place where ‘works’ do have a place and we’ll discover together and just what part ‘works’ plays in God’s plan for us.

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