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AM Bible Study Archives
"Holding the Faith Without Partiality"
Wednesday AM Bible Study
June 18, 2003
Many of our problems in living the Christian life come through a failure
to maintain a "two-world perspective". A two-world perspective is one
that recognizes that we, as Christians, live in two different realms at
the same time. We live on earth - where we work and maintain our lives,
deal with every-day problems, and interact with the challenge of human
relationships. But we do this on earth while, at the same time, we are
full citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20-21) - in which we give Jesus our chief
devotion, fellowship with Him in the every-day matters of life, deal with
our problems through the resources of His grace, and live with the expectation
of future glory. We live with our feet on earth and our eyes on heaven.
One of the areas in which we fail to keep to this two-world perspective
is in the way we look at other people. The Bible tells us that while man
looks at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).
His message to the world is one that is "in demonstration of the Spirit
and of power" (1 Cor. 2:4). But so often, we who have been transformed
by that message continue to judge people on the basis of earthly criteria.
Many in Paul's day even did this toward him (2 Cor. 10:10); and yet he
insisted that we are to cease judging people on the basis of the flesh
but on the basis of God's grace toward them (2 Cor. 5:14-17) - a grace
that makes us all equals (Col. 3:11; Gal. 3:28).
If we profess to follow Jesus, then we must view people in terms of what
God sees - not in terms of worldy values. Pastor James wrote to encourage
the people under his care to cease practicing the faith in Jesus Christ
with a spirit of personal favoritism.
I. WE ARE NOT TO HOLD OUR FAITH IN CHRIST WITH AN ATTITUDE OF PARTIALITY
"My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord
of glory, with partiality."
A. "Partiality" comes from the Greek word which comes from a
Hebrew idiom which meant "to lift up the face on a person". Figuratively,
it means to be favorable to someone; and it eventually came to mean being
partial to someone (Rom. 2:11; Eph. 6:9; Col. 3:25).
B. James shows how wrong this is by pointing out that it is a "faith"
in the only one who is truly "Lord of glory". When we look at Jesus
as He truly is - and when we consider how much He humbled Himself on
our behalf - how can we dare to live in the context of faith in Him
while continuing to view one another from the perspective of worldly
C. James himself set the example in this. He is the esteemed half-brother
of the Lord Jesus; and the honored pastor of the church of Jerusalem.
But he refers to those who whom he writes as "my brethren".
II. SUCH PARTIALITY IS INCONSISTENT WITH FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST (vv. 2-7).
A. PARTIALITY MAKES DISTINCTIONS BASED ON EVIL VALUES (vv. 2-4).
"For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings,
in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes,
and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him,
'You sit here in a good place,' and say to the poor man, 'You stand there,'
or 'Sit here at my footstool,' have you not shown partiality among yourselves
and become judges with evil thoughts?"
1. Note that it is not Christ that makes the evaluation, but
- as James says - "you". As far as Jesus is concerned, there is no distinction
based on such outward matters.
2. In making such distinctions, James says that his readers had become
"judges with evil thoughts". It may have been that they wanted to
look good, or to have a big donator in their church. But the point
is that we are operating from sinful motives whenever we neglect someone
Jesus loves in preference for outward standards.
B. PARTIALITY DOES NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE GRACE OF GOD'S UNMERITED
CALLING (vv. 5-6a).
"Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this
world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised
to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man."
1. Ted Turner is famous for having said that Christianity
is a religion for losers; and though we may recoil at that somewhat,
there is a sense in which he was right. God did choose the foolish and
weak things of this world in order to shame the wise and powerful (1
2. How wrong it is, then, to instead dishonor that one that Jesus
C. PARTIALITY TENDS TOWARD GIVING HONOR TO THOSE WHOM DISHONOR GOD
"Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they
not blaspheme that noble name by which you were called?"
1. Likewise, how wrong it is to honor those who dishonor Christ!
James is not saying here that it's wrong to be rich. The rich that he
is speaking of here were obviously very sinful and wicked, and were
being described by him in 5:1-6).
2. How would it be if we could only see one another for a split second
in terms of our ultimate calling as we will be in glory! - as those
who will one day judge the angels (1 Cor. 6:3); and who will be given
an imperishable inheritance in heaven (1 Peter 1:4). We would never
again judge one another on the basis of earthly riches, or ever again
look down our noses who have little of this world's goods. Instead,
we will glorify God who showered such grace on those He has called.
May God reveal to us anything of a spirit of favoritism or partiality
in our Christian fellowship. And may we learn to reverence God and His
amazing grace by learning to see one another as He sees us!