Reflection of Faith
Your attitude about the Equality of Persons
The core of the message in James 2 is that our attitude towards others, especially in how we see the differences in people, is directly related to our faith and to the quality of our relationship with God. The divisions we make between people should be the same ones God makes, not the ones our culture makes.
We could be quick to judge that it is our attitude toward the poor that is at stake here, but that is not the case. It is our ability to be impartial when it comes to all “types” that is questioned (verse 9). In fact, in Leviticus 19:15, the Law says that Israel was not to “be partial to the poor OR defer to the great.” The same goes for women and men, different cultures and nationalities. Very often, we humans make distinctions that are more about our personal power or comfort rather than what God sees as distinctions.
Let’s face it, it is not the Earthly divisions, rich and poor, male and female, African, Indian, American, Jew, Gentile or Greek etc, that determines our standing before God. It is our relationship to Him. Our outward appearance is just God’s creativity in His portrayal of His Image. We are nothing in and of ourselves; we are only anything in Him (John 15).
Therefore, any distinctions we make about people are pointless. Our behavior towards others should reflect that. We should not give people places of honor or even distain because of the distinctions that only the world makes. Our view of our brothers, like us or not, should model the character of Jesus Christ. For it is in Him we live and move and have our being. It is for Him that we live (Gal. 2:20). We are here to love others as He loves us. Walking in forgiveness because that is precisely what He has called us to do. (2Cor 5:17-21). Instead, we often walk around feeling superior to others because we are His children, or because we in some way convinced ourselves that they are inferior, and vice versa. We are not here to impress, we are here to express God’s feelings about the world being reconciled to Him. With an attitude of superiority or an attitude that seeks approval, we are revealing that our faith is in people and not in God.
Our attitude about the equality of persons, including ourselves, is a direct reflection of our attitude about God.
Questions: Read James 2
1. What are some of the distinctions James makes about people?
2. Does he give and particular order of importance to any of these distinctions?
3. Why would he not make a particular order?
4. What is God’s order of importance for people?
5. Why do you think our cultures make those distinctions?
6. Is this Biblical? Why or Why not?
7. What is the danger of partiality?
8. Why does God forbid it?
9. Read Levitcus 19:15. How is justice tied in with predjudice?
10. What does God call us to judge with? (John 7:24)
11. How does partiality get in the way of justice?
12. Discuss this chapter and come up with five ways that your church can change to make your church a more welcoming and Biblical place.
Here are some other Scriptures that can help you in your search:
James 2:1-13 (ESV)
1 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called? 8 If you really fulfill 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 but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
James 2:1-13 (ESV)