Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Treat Everyone the Same – A sermon based on James 2:1-13
Click here to review part one in this series (James 1:1-8 – Maturing Through Difficulty)
Click here to review part two in this series (James 1:9-18 - We Don’t Want to Be Rich!)
Verse 1 - My brothers, hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ without showing favoritism.
• When James uses the term “brothers” he is referring to Christians.
• This passage is telling Christians how to treat other people.
• How we treat other people is an outward demonstration of how we “hold to our faith.”
• If we were honest, we would have to admit that we tend to let go of our faith when it is convenient and then take it up again when we need something from God.
• The word “favoritism” is the Greek word “prosopolempsia” which means “receiving a person because of one’s outward appearance.”
• We often pick our friends by the clothes they wear, or the style of their hair, or how they look.
• The Lord chooses people by what He sees inside of them.
• 1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said …Do not look at his outward appearance or his stature…Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart."
Verse 2 - For suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring, dressed in fine clothes, and a poor man dressed in dirty clothes also comes in.
• Read Bill’s story . . . .
• It is so easy to look down on those who we perceive as being “lower” than us.
• But how does God want us to treat others?
Verses 3-4 - If you look with favor on the man wearing the fine clothes so that you say, Sit here in a good place, and yet you say to the poor man, Stand over there, or, Sit here on the floor by my footstool, haven't you discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
• When we treat people differently because of how they look, we are discriminating against them.
• The word “discriminate” comes from the Greek word “diakrinomai” which literally means “wavering or doubting.”
• Remember, verse 1 said hold to our faith by treating people correctly.
• When we discriminate against people because of how they look, we waver in our faith and doubt God’s creation.
• God made us the way we are, who are we to doubt God’s wisdom?
Verse 5 - Didn't God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that He has promised to those who love Him?
• Remember James 1:10 taught us that the “poor” are those who have been through difficulties in life but remained faithful while the “rich” are those who think they are powerful and in control of everything around them.
• God choose the “poor” to be rich in faith.
• This means God choose those who have been through difficulties and trials to have a faith that is powerful and can change situations through their trust in the Spirit.
• The verse also says that God choose the poor to be heirs of the kingdom of heaven.
• This does not mean that people who have had difficulty in life automatically get to go to heaven.
• This verse is referring to the reality that many people come to Christ in a time of difficulty in their lives. Once they come to Christ, then they get to go to heaven.
• Difficulties in life will either be a stepping stone to God or a stumbling block to faith.
Verse 8 - If you really carry out the royal law prescribed in Scripture, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well.
• James reminds us of what Jesus said in Matthew 22:39, that we should love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves.
• If we do that, then we are doing well.
• Imagine a world, a nation, a community, a church, a family, where we loved each other as much as we loved ourselves.
Verse 9 - But if you show favoritism, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
• When we judge people by how they look on the outside, we sin.
• God takes sin seriously.
• So while we are busy judging others, God is preparing to judge us.
• We might want to think about this some.
Verse 10 - For whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point, is guilty of breaking it all.
• James points out that sin is sin.
• Though we like to create categories for sins that we think are worse than others, God does not have such categories.
• God is so holy that He cannot tolerate any level of sin in His presence.
• Therefore, the sin of favoritism is just as serious as any other sin.
• This means that not only must be make sure we do not judge others by how they look on the outside, we also need to be careful about judging others for sin that we perceive to be worse than our own sin.
• This does not mean we have to ignore sin.
• It simply means that we must all acknowledge our own sin before pointing out the sins of others.
• Matthew 7:2-5 - For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye but don't notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and look, there's a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
• Christians should not discriminate against others based on outward appearance.
• Christians should realize that those who have gone through great difficulty in their lives may have much to teach us about faith, even if they look a bit beat up.
• Christians should love others as much as they love themselves.
• Christians should only point out sin in others after we have acknowledged our own sins before a Holy God, who will judge us all.
Anyone can learn to develop a sermon outline like this by reading the book, Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church, published by CrossBooks, a division of Lifeway.