Tuesday, April 28, 2009

James 2:1-13


In chapter 1 we learned that pure religion is more than the muttering of prayers and rituals-more than being externally oriented. Pure religion has to do with visiting orphans and widows and keeping oneself unstained by the world. Keeping yourself unstained by the world begins with preventing yourself from being a hearer only (1:19-21), but an effective doer of the word of truth (1:22-25). In other words, being a hearer only tends toward definition without demonstration that leads to the worship of doctrine. But even sound doctrine by itself tends to put people sound asleep! James is appealing to be unstained from the world and the world's ways by not doing things by lecture, but by a lab that demands definition and demonstration!

Now, James continues his theme of keeping yourself unstained by the world when he turns to the subject of showing partiality. Don't hold your faith with an attitude of partiality toward others! 1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. 2 For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 3 and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, ``You sit here in a good place,'' and you say to the poor man, ``You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,'' [Your value system is false.] 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? [You are practicing discrimination.] 5 Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? [You fail to honor the poor whom God honors.] 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? 7 Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called? [You favor those who oppress you.]

INSTEAD, fulfill the royal law.
8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, ``YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,'' you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, ``DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,'' also said, ``DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.'' Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

NOTE verse 5-LOVE GOD, and now verse 8-LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR. The royal law is an interesting term. Literally, it is the "law of the king" or the law that is fit for the king or a kingly law or the law of the king and kingdom. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-40 that the entire Mosaic Law rests on "loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself", so here this is a fitting reference to the royal or kingly or kingdom law.

Instead of having an attitude of partiality, seek to fulfill the royal law of Jesus! 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

So, speak and act (do): FIRST-Because you will be judged by the law of liberty (judged by the law that set you free from bondage and slavery, so reflect this gratefulness in your actions toward others).

SECOND-Because mercy wins out over judgment (literally, mercy celebrates, even boasts, triumphs over judgment).

NOTE there are two kinds of judgment that Jesus taught (Matthew 7): 1. Condemnation judgment 2. Conclusion judgment-discernment Here James is clearly speaking of the "condemnation" kind of judgment that is merciless!

NOTE the logic of this as it relates to being stained by the world. This is much like the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-27). The question is "Who is my neighbor?" The answer is anyone in your path that has a need you can address. So, today: 1. Many people suffer affliction of all kinds. 2. Many believers never relieve affliction for others, due to the stains on your heart and mind. So, believers find themselves going through the following process of ignoring the needs of those around them, even though (a) they were positioned there by God, (b) they were aware of the person's condition, (c) they were capable of meeting the person's needs and (d) they each had good rationalized excuses.

What is desperately needed is for people of true faith to remove the stains of the world that remain on their hearts and minds. To say it another way, I think Jesus is looking for SPOT REMOVERS!

You know what's interesting, Jesus never saw a prostitute; He sees through the stains! Also, Jesus lived out the royal law and therefore was and is always GOOD NEWS for everyone without partiality!

HOW CAN YOU BE A SPOT REMOVER? #1-Receive your own spot remover for the stains in your life-His love for you! #2-Reciprocate your love back to Him in gratefulness-your love God! #3-Release your love to others-your love for your neighbors!