Thursday, January 24, 2008

Blog Message, "Pedestrians, How We Should Treat Others" Part 2

James says there are three problems with favoritism.

1. Favoritism is not what Jesus would do. If you want to be like Jesus you can't play favorites. "My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism." Faith and favoritism are incompatible -- we're a family. (although we all have our favorites in the family) This word "favoritism" is used only four times in the Bible. Every other time it's referring to God and it says, “God does not play favorites.” Romans 2:11 "God does not show favoritism" Jesus treated everybody with dignity. God loves everybody. If there is one place in the world where there shouldn't be any kind of discrimination it should be the church. There is discrimination everywhere else in the world. But there should be one place no matter who you are or what your background is that you're welcome.

2. Favoritism does not make sense. In v. 5-7 he says it's illogical, it doesn't make sense. “In the first place,” he says, “God has chosen the poor.” "Has not God chosen the poor to be rich in faith and inherit the kingdom?" He's not saying that it's good to be poor and bad to be rich. He's not saying that only the poor will be saved. Everybody in our church is rich compared to the majority of the world. It doesn't make any difference to God. Aren't you glad your salvation isn't based on your savings account? Wealth in itself does not deserve any special treatment. Maybe the person got it by lying their taxes or fleecing seniors. Don't confuse your net worth with your self-worth. Big difference. My net worth and my self- worth have nothing to do with each other. I don't get my strokes by impressing you by wearing certain kinds of clothes or driving a certain kind of car. It doesn't matter where you buy your clothes or what you drive when you're in the family of God.

“It's illogical,” he says. Don't confuse where you get your self-worth from. God chooses the poor. He doesn't expect them to be wealthy in order to be saved. “On top of this,” he says, “the rich could care less about you”. Why worry about catering to them. "Is it not the rich exploiting you." In New Testament times it was the Roman nobles or rich people who were feeding the Christians to the lions. It was the upper crust that were persecuting the Christians, judging the Christians, insulting the Christians, throwing the Christians to the lions. James says, "Why are you worried about impressing them. They're certainly not worried about impressing you. They're doing the opposite."

3. Favoritism is unloving. That's why you shouldn't do it. "If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, `Love your neighbor as yourself.' you're doing right." Why is it called the royal law? Because if we obeyed that one we wouldn't need all of the rest. "Love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:14 "All the law is summed up in one sentence, `Love your neighbor as yourself'." If I play favorites I'm being unloving.

The Bible says that how we relate to other people shows how much we really love God. I John 4:20 "If a man says he loves God and hates his brother he's lying. How can you love God whom you haven't seen if you don't love your brother whom you have seen?" How I relate to you proves how much I love God. Favoritism is unloving.

v. 9 "If you show favoritism you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." How many laws do you have to break to be a lawbreaker? One. How many crimes do you have to commit to become a criminal? One. How many links do you have to break to break a chain? One. Have you ever been to a store that has the sign "You break it, you've bought it." They don't care if it's broken in one place or into a thousand pieces, if you broke it you bought it. James is saying that people think favoritism is such a small sin. But, he says, if you break God's rule, you break God's rule. Be careful it's serious business.

v. 11 "For who said, `Do not commit adultery' also said `Do not murder'. If you don't commit adultery but you do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker." What is he saying? He's illustrating his point about being unloving. If I come to your house and say, "I really respect you a whole lot. The way I'm going to prove how much I love you is I'm not going to commit adultery with your wife. However, if you tick me off I might just murder you." Are you going to thank me for that? Will you appreciate my love? How absurd! It's ridiculous! What does God care if I'm partial to certain kinds of people?" God says it's all the same! It's all important.

v. 12 "Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom because judgement without mercy will not be shown to anyone who has been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgement." Love treats people with mercy. Love gives people what they need, not what they deserve. James is probably thinking about his half-brother Jesus who said in the Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy."

Ask yourself, "Are you disobeying God by showing favoritism?"