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A few hundred years ago, Israel needed a new king.
Saul had proven unreliable and the prophet Samuel was sent to the tiny town of Bethlehem to anoint his successor.
When he arrived, he invited Jesse and his sons to attend a sacrifice.
The father and his sons – seven huge hunks – made their appearance.
Each of the boys was paraded past Samuel.
Each looked like the stuff of which kings are made.
Samuel was impressed.
In his opinion, any one of these boys would have been adequate for the job.
God rejected all of them.
Instead, He chose the son that Jesse ignored – his youngest son David.
Both Jesse and Samuel made the same mistake.
They judged the potential of the boys by what they saw on the outside.
They were partial to big, brawny men and snubbed skinny, pimple-faced boys.
Without realizing it, they were guilty of the sin of favoritism.
At that point, God gave Samuel a reminder that we would do well to remember:/ the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart./
God is not impressed with a man’s social status or financial portfolio.
He’s not influenced by the number of home runs he hits, or the sticker price of the car he drives.
God only looks at one thing: what’s in a man’s heart.
Apparently, the early believers had forgotten that truth.
James suggests that they had developed the unChristlike practice of showing partiality to those who appeared more influential.
When a wealthy visitor came to the church, he was treated like an honored guest while the poor were practically ignored.
With a bluntness we will soon become familiar with, James wrote, /If you play favorites, you commit sin/ (verse 9).
In studying this section, we will look at three different contrasting ideals to which James draws our attention.
I. Grace or Glamour?
#. *The Exhortation *– verse 1
Addressed to /"brethren,"/ those sharing faith in Christ.
Appeals to the example of Christ.
The glamour and glitter of this world easily influenced these believers.
They were easily impressed by designer labels and expensive jewelry.
#. James reminds them that the object of their faith was /the Lord of glory/
In 2 Corinthians 8:9, Paul wrote, /For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that *though He was rich*, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich./
Even though all the glorious wealth of heaven was His, Christ in grace left it behind to redeem mankind.
It was more important to Him that He extend grace to sinners than cling to His glory.
#. *The Example – *verses 2-3
James vividly illustrates what he is talking about.
Two men visit a service.
Both stand out - one for his wealth, the other for his poverty.
James draws a picture of the wealthy visitor wearing a gold ring and fashionable clothing.
The poor visitor is dressed in rags.
*The ushers roll out the red carpet for the wealthy visitor*.
He is seated where everyone will be able to see him.
*The poor man awaits similar treatment, and doesn’t get it*.
AND THAT’S THE PROBLEM!
There was nothing wrong in extending a warm welcome to the rich visitor.
The sin was in treating the poor visitor differently.
When the ushers told him to stand at the back or sit on the floor, it revealed they were *more interested in attracting wealth than ministering grace*.
#. *The Examination – *verse 4
James asks two questions that cause us to examine the implications of such an action.
Are you not partial /in yourselves/?
In other words, you believe that the wealthy /members/ of your congregation are more valuable than the poor ones.
If you are more interested in reaching the upper classes of society, then you are saying that their contributions (gifts and talents) are more important to the church.
Are you not … become /judges of evil thoughts/?
(Judges who have evil thoughts)
#. James informs us that it is an evil thought - wicked and ungodly - to judge the potential of men to contribute to the Kingdom of God by outward appearances.
What is more important?
Having a glamorous church, or a grace-filled church?
Earthly Wealth or Eternal Riches?
#. *The sovereign choice of God – *verse 5
A man can lack the things this world considers valuable, but be enriched by faith.
Not every believer can be described as "rich in faith."
The issue here is not the possession of salvation, but the blessings that accompany salvation.
#. *Often, those we despise have a better chance of excelling in faith because they have so little to cling to*.
In this regard Paul wrote, /God hath chosen the base things of the world to confound the wise."
/SEE 1 CORINTHIANS 1:26-29
A man can lack the things this world considers valuable, yet be an enjoy.
/heir of the kingdom/ – having the promise that all the wealth of heaven will be his to
Nine-year-old Phillip was in a Sunday School class of eight-year-olds.
The other children did not welcome Philip to their class.
They often made fun of him, not because he was older, but because he was "different."
Phillip suffered from Down’s syndrome.
He had the physical characteristics, slow responses, and mild retardation that accompany his disability.
On Easter Sunday, the teacher gave each child one of those plastic eggs that pull apart in the middle.
She instructed her students to go outdoors, find a symbol of "new life" and place it within the egg.
The children eagerly complied.
Afterwards, the teacher opened each egg, giving the children a chance to see what the other students had found.
One had placed a pretty flower in the egg.
The children showed their approval.
Another egg revealed a tiny butterfly.
Everyone agreed that it was beautiful.
Finally, the teacher opened the last egg, and it was empty.
"That’s stupid," said one of the little boys in the class.
Then the teacher felt a tug on his shirt.
It was Phillip.
Looking up he said, "That’s mine.
I did it.
I have new life because the tomb is empty."
A hush fell over the class.
From that time forward, Phillip became a part of the group.
Whatever had made Him different was never mentioned again.
That summer, Phillip died.
In his own way, he had been /poor /[in]/ this world, /but /rich in faith./
God chose him to teach others the meaning of the resurrection.
At his funeral, nine 8-year-old boys and girls filed past his casket, each placing an empty plastic egg alongside the flowers already there.
#. *The sinful conduct of the rich – *verses 6-7
Instead of using their wealth to benefit others, they used it to bully others.
The poor often borrowed from the wealthy at excessive rates of interest.
When the poor couldn’t pay, they would be taken to court and cast into prison.
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