Online Worship for Trinity Sixteen, Sunday September 19, 2021
Sermon for Trinity Sixteen – 8,5,07 – September 19, 2021
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace and peace to you from God our Father; whose love for us is revealed in His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
James 2:1-13 (NKJV)
1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2 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, 3 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,” 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 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? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? 8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
In the Name of Jesus Christ,
Who has established the law of liberty,
To free those bound by sin and guilt,
Dear Fellow Redeemed by His Blood –
It happens in frequently in westerns. A heinous crime is committed, a bank robbed or someone kidnapped. The Sheriff has no time to waste; he must follow the outlaw’s trail before it gets cold. So he turns to a nearby townsperson and asking him to raise his right hand, deputizes him. While he had no legal authority beforehand, once deputized he stands for the sheriff and for the Law and they stand behind him. He need only remember his authority comes from the Sheriff.
We are followers of Jesus Christ, and we need to remember that Faith unites us to Jesus, the Lord of Glory. He is our master. He is greater and rises far above us all, but still calls us His brothers and sisters. Since we are thus united with Christ, we are God’s children and are encouraged in this portion of God’s Word, that we: Don’t Play Favorites…because God doesn’t. We learn that since God is fair to all, his people are not to play favorites.
We are encouraged to this end by the fact that God in His mercy chose us to be His own according to His own undeserved love. May God the Holy Spirit bless our study and lead us by the Gospel to be fair and impartial, like our God and Father. Amen.
Let’s imagine for a moment that Microsoft Developer Bill Gates decided to drop in on our worship service this morning and flanked by security guards began looking for a place to sit. Then at the same time a haggard, unshaven homeless person appeared cloaked in a most unsavory body odor. Do you suppose that we would afford both men the same courtesy? Would we treat both men the same, or would we favor one or the other?
Partiality is showing favor to one person over another upon seeing who he is, whether rich or poor, famous or common. It appears that the Jews to whom James wrote also were inclined to play the favorite like we are. For this reason both they and we are encouraged:
1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2 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, 3 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,” 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
Please notice that we are told nothing about either man, save his outward appearance. One is clearly wealthy, for he wears gold rings and bright clothing. The other is a beggar, a man who has nothing and is dressed in filthy clothing. If we knew nothing more than this, which would we be inclined to favor…honestly? If our decision were based solely upon the outward appearance of each man, which of us would choose the stinky homeless man over Bill Gates?
Would we say: “Mr. Gates, please sit here, use my hymnal, let me help you follow along.” Would we say to the other: “Ahem, sir…there is a speaker downstairs, you should be able to sit on the floor and listen from there…run along.” If we did, we would be practicing blatant favoritism. We would be showing ourselves to be judges who render evil verdicts.
We would be like a contemptible judge who chooses not to hear the facts of the case but decides it based upon who he judges the defendant to be upon first glance. Is that just, fair, impartial? NO. Do we treat certain members of the congregation differently for one reason or another? What if they are younger? What if they are related? If that is the case at times ALREADY, what makes us think we would be impartial if our two imagined visitors appeared?
6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?
Their faith should have taught them to show the same courtesy to every person, to every visitor, and yet that wasn’t the case, despite the fact that the very same kind of people treated them with distain! The rich of those days were the Sadducees who oppressed the poor, especially Christians who were poor. The Sadducees authorized, deputized and bankrolled Saul of Tarsus to go even to foreign cities to arrest Christians. They were the one’s blaspheming the name of the Triune God, the name into which they had been baptized! Still, when one of these power brokers entered their assembly, they played the favorite.
It begs the question: “Is any one person worth more than another in God’s Sight?” The simple answer is no.
It is the human way to be impressed with the external appearance, to be impressed with wealth and power. But our Heavenly Father is no respecter of persons. He is not swayed by gold or fine clothing, nor is he dissuaded by shabby clothing. He judges the heart, and He is always fair, always righteous, and always just to EVERYONE. He doesn’t play favorites and neither should we…and yet we do. Let’s not dismiss it as a mere character flaw! It isn’t just a blemish, a mistake, it is sin. When we play the favorite we sin and fall under the Law’s condemnation:
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
James’s readers understood that ‘the royal law’ referred to the law of love, the basis for every commandment, summarized like this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. Simply, God commands that we love Him and that we love our neighbor (Matthew 22:38-39; Galatians 5:14).
So, if you really are fulfilling the royal law, then you will love your neighbor as yourself (regardless of whether he is rich or poor). But when you or I play the favorite, we sin and are convicted by the law, declared guilty. James is pointed and plain: It is always sin to show partiality.
Moreover, when we break just one of God’s Commandments, we are guilty of all.
10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.
Even when God’s Word is as plain as this, we find that our sinful natures want to evade blame. When caught in sin we attempt to minimize our sin. The child caught stealing from the cookie jar without asking says: “Well, at least I’ve never murdered anyone (as if that justifies his wrong).” The Commandments of God are not like bowling pins, of which one may be knocked down and the others remain standing. In breaking one, we have become guilty of the whole.
James isn’t saying we can keep the whole law without stumbling, without sinning, he says as much in the third chapter (3:2). He is using the law as it should be used, to convict and condemn. We have played the favorite. We have lusted. We have hated. We have not loved as we ought. We have been selfish and self-centered. All the pins are down, we are guilty sinners.
While we have played favorites, God didn’t and hasn’t. Moreover, instead of simply condemning us, He chose us according to His amazing grace and has forgiven us for Jesus’ sake. James brings this good news to our attention when he says:
5 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?
Listen my fellow Christians: Hasn’t God chosen the beggars of this world to be rich in faith? YES! God didn’t choose to redeem those who could pay, who had material goods or a fine external appearance. God didn’t choose to redeem us based upon our goodness.
God chose, of His undeserved love to make us rich, through faith in Jesus Christ. Our riches are not material. We are part of God’s Kingdom and heirs of every spiritual blessing through faith in Jesus Christ.
God chose to show mercy to us and forgive on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice. God still does forgive those spiritual beggars who come to him confessing their sins and unworthiness and seeking pardon in Christ. Christ invites you to come to Him today, and promises that your sins are forgiven, because: “This is my body given for YOU. This is my blood shed for YOU, that you should be forgiven.” Now by faith, we love because He first loved us.
Since God has chosen us to be rich in faith, chosen us to be heirs of the Kingdom promised, we are to speak and love as those who will be judged by to the Law of Liberty:
12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
What is this law of liberty by which we live and by which we will be judged? It is the Good News of our rescue, of our freedom in Christ. We might say that God’s grace states the law of liberty like this (John 3:16):
“…whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”
God has set us free from bondage to sin and eternal death. It is written that if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. We are free from sin, free to serve our Savior and Master Jesus. We have been purified by faith, and by faith called upon to offer up sacrifices of love and thanksgiving. We, who will be declared ‘not guilty’ when the Day of Judgment arrives, have opportunity to show mercy, to point to Christ in whom God has had mercy! Then will mercy indeed triumph over judgment.
So when tempted to play favorites, remember…God doesn’t. He is fair to all, and we are to be unbiased followers of Christ.
This we do because we remember that God’s mercy led Him to choose us, according to His Grace, that we might serve Him in gladness all our days.
May He grant it to His glory!