Faith and Partiality

Last week, Leigh Ann walked us through James 1 and being doers of the Word. Today, we'll being looking at chapter two and what being a "doer" of the Word means.

We'll start with the first seven verses of chapter two.

1 “My brothers and sisters, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if someone comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor person dressed in filthy clothes also comes in, if you look with favor on the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Sit here in a good place,’ and yet you say to the poor person, ‘Stand over there,’ or ‘Sit here on the floor by my footstool,’ haven’t you made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: 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? Yet you have dishonored the poor. Don’t the rich oppress you and drag you into court? Don’t they blaspheme the good name that was invoked over you?”
—James 2:1-7

So, what's going on here? It sounds like these early churches were treating people differently based on financial status. Remember that James was writing to Christians who were dispersed. In other words, these believers were living in a foreign land, often under very difficult circumstances. So, maybe it's understandable why they might have pandered to the rich, to those who had influence and those who might help them with their struggles. Don't we do the same thing? If someone is worth much to the world, couldn't they also be worth much to the church?

But the problem wasn't accepting the rich. It was doing so at the expense of the poor. This, James said, makes us judges with evil thoughts. We'll get more into that word, "judges," tomorrow. But for now, let's dig into this idea of partiality.

First, these churches were out of step with reality. They weren't gaining favor with the rich. To the contrary, James said these affluent people were the same ones who oppressed the church and who blasphemed God.

Secondly, these churches were out of step with God's way. Proverbs tells us showing partiality is a bad idea (28:21). So does the Mosaic law (Leviticus 19:15, Deuteronomy 16:19). Even Jesus spoke to the issue (Luke 4:16-20, Luke 6:20).

The world may value the power and the influence of the rich, but God goes first to the poor, those who are less stained by the idols of this world. The rich may seek God, but the poor must seek God. They have nothing else.

It's interesting to me that my own reactions are sometimes out of step with God's way. When I see a financially desperate person come to our church in need of help, I sometimes label their zeal for God as inauthentic. "Oh, they just want God because they don't have anything else." Or, "What they want is a way out of their bad situation."

Yes! That's exactly right! Oh, how God desires us to turn to Him instead of things moth and rust can destroy. Before Christ, were we all not poor, spiritual orphans abandoned by hope? Should we not celebrate when anyone comes to the Lord, whether rich or poor?

The church is not to resent the rich, of course. But we're also not to pin our hopes on them either. We must view every soul as valuable to the Kingdom. God loves everyone, and so should we.

Let's pray.

"Lord, help us to treat anyone who seeks You with the impartiality You showed us. Let us love them and accept them, and so live out our faith. Amen."

Tomorrow, we'll look at that word "judges" and find out what showing partiality really means for those with faith.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

This devotional was written and read by Brandon Abbott. Brandon is the Connection Minister at the Church at Station Hill. You can read more about him here.