Faithlife Sermons

The Fallacy of Favoritism

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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 guilty of 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

Chapter 1 Stand with Conviction

Chapter 2 Serve with Compassion

The Fallacy of Favoritism
There is a folktale in the middle east about a man who was invited to a banquet. He left his house dressed in his favorite patchwork coat. Of course, being his favorite, it was older and worn. On the way to the banquet he helped a man capture his runaway goat. When he arrived at his friends banquet, no one paid any attention. The servants ignored him and even his friend had nothing to do with him. He realized it was because his coat was dirty and he smelled like goat. He left. Cleaned up. Put on his best coat and went back to the banquet. He was immediately greeted by the servants, everyone accepted him and all kinds of food were set before him. He picks up a piece of food and puts it in the sleeve of his coat saying, “Eat, my coat, Eat!” His friend and all the guests were shocked at this and asked what he was doing. The man replied, ““Why surely you wanted my coat to eat,” “When I first arrived in my old coat, there was no food for me. Yet when I came back in my new coat, there was every kind of food for me. This shows that it was the coat–and not me–that you invited to your banquet.”
In our passage, today, James touches on a subject that is relevant to every one of us. Favoritism. I believe every one of us hates favoritism. We have heard someone say, “It is not what you know, but who you know.” I don’t know about you but that goes right through me. We want to believe that with enough hard work we can accomplish anything, but what about the person who doesn’t put in the hard work? You know who I am talking about. The one who got hired because they knew someone or the one who got promoted just because they were connected, somehow, to the boss. But favoritism goes on in more than just the work place. We want to be friends with people who have money. Somewhere deep inside we hope it will come our way.
Kids go out of their way to be in the “in” crowd hoping they will benefit from it.
We don’t like favoritism and we are quick to deny it. I’m not that way! But the truth is it affects all of us and James leads off with this as he starts to give direction to his readers.
James 2:1 ESV
1 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.
1 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.
We have to:
We have to:
A. Accept others (2:1–13)
Show no partiality as you walk with Jesus. Remember, James is writing to a Jewish audience. Partiality was part of who they were. If you weren’t a Jew, you were a second class citizen. Jews didn’t associate with Gentiles. They didn’t eat with them and they definitely didn’t worship with them. Those people were unclean. Can you hear the attitude in this? We are God’s chosen people, so that has to make us better than you. Listen, again to what James says:
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?
James 2:2–4 ESV
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?
Can you picture this in our church? One of the well-to-do members of our community comes in. We would naturally welcome them and find them a good place to sit. A few of you would lean to your neighbor and say, “Did you see who is here today!” We would be excited and maybe even announce it to the church. But James says, “Would you do that for a poor person?” Would we be just as excited for the homeless person who walked in our doors? I would like to think so, but I am afraid we aren’t much different from the folks in James’ day.
Can you picture this in our church? One of the well-to-do members of our community comes in. We would naturally welcome them and find them a good place to sit. A few of you would lean to your neighbor and say, “Did you see who is here today!” We would be excited and maybe even announce it to the church. But James says, “Would you do that for a poor person?” Would we be just as excited for the homeless person who walked in our doors? I would like to think so, but I am afraid we aren’t much different from the folks in James’ day.
We have to show:

Courtesy To All

I think it is our natural tendency to show favoritism but at its core we are just judging people.
James 2:4 ESV
4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
There is an amazing irony in all of this. Here we sit professing to be Christians, forgiven of all our sins, every evil and thoughtless thing we have ever done and yet we so quickly judge others around us. And most of the time we are basing our judgment on what we see. What kind of car they drive, what color their skin is, where they live, what clothes they wear, what kind of accent they have.
There is an amazing irony in all of this. Here we sit professing to be Christians, forgiven of all our sins, every evil and thoughtless thing we have ever done and yet we so quickly judge others around us. And most of the time we are basing our judgment on what we see. What kind of car they drive, what color their skin is, where they live, what clothes they wear, what kind of accent they have.
All of those things give us an excuse for separating people and putting them in classes, usually below us. James is reminding us there is only one real separation and that is the one between man and God. God is way up here and we are way down here. There is no way we can span that gap on our own. But in this little space of way down here, we want to make distinctions. Seems kind of silly doesn’t it?
Here we stand free from God’s judgment. Think about this for a second. We judge people on what we can see, yet, God who sees everything; God who knows every evil thing we have ever done, every evil thought we have ever harbored chooses not to judge us for them.
That means He will also do this for every person we come in contact with, should they choose to accept Him. He doesn’t just save the rich. In fact, they are usually the last to turn to Him. Who are we to condemn people that even God doesn’t judge. Instead of rushing to judge them, how about loving them like God loves them.
We don’t get to pick and choose. We should show Courtesy to everyone. How much different would our communities be if people simply showed courtesy to one another. This would be a great start, but it would not be enough.
James also says we need:

Compassion For All

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?
James 2:5 ESV
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?
Jesus said, “The last shall be first.” The people who we see as last in line are the very people God has chosen to bless. The poor have the good news preached to them. Those the world values least God values most because He is not looking at what they are wearing or what they do or don’t have. God looks into the heart and sees the true man. He looks at you like a parent looks at their child. He sees the good when no one else can or even wants to.
Jesus said, “The last shall be first.” The people who we see as last in line are the very people God has chosen to bless. The poor have the good news preached to them. Those the world values least God values most because He is not looking at what they are wearing or what they do or don’t have. God looks into the heart and sees the true man. He looks at you like a parent looks at their child. He sees the good when no one else can or even wants to.
The poor have a special place in God’s kingdom. As the world sees it, they have nothing to offer, but that is not how God sees it. We think we have all this stuff to offer God. But the truth is, what matters is not all the stuff. The poor have nothing to offer except themselves and that is exactly what God wants. We really have nothing to offer God except ourselves. When we understand this, all the trappings of the world fade away. The poor don’t have to sort through all this. Simply, this is all I have, God, you can have it. There is nothing wrong with being wealthy and we need to understand there is nothing wrong with being poor.
But the poor are isolated and looked down on. James goes on:
James 2:6–7 ESV
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?
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?
You chase after the rich. You suck up to them, hoping to win their favor. But, when was the last time a poor person oppressed you or drug you into court. The very people you are sucking up to are the ones who are using you and abusing you. James goes on, “You are trying to curry favor with people who don’t even care about God; people who curse God and have no use for Him.” They think you are contemptible and you don’t care, you just want to hang out with the bigwigs.
You chase after the rich. You suck up to them, hoping to win their favor. But, when was the last time a poor person oppressed you or drug you into court. The very people you are sucking up to are the ones who are using you and abusing you. James goes on, “You are trying to curry favor with people who don’t even care about God; people who curse God and have no use for Him.” They think you are contemptible and you don’t care, you just want to hang out with the bigwigs.
Again, James is showing them they are turning their back on God when they mistreat the poor and outcast. The rich might be able to give you stuff, but they cannot give you peace and forgiveness and they definitely cannot give you eternal life.
James 2:8–9 ESV
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.
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.
If you fulfill the royal law:
If you fulfill the royal law:
Leviticus 19:18 ESV
18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
This is one of the cases we have talked about where you should not confuse simple with easy. The royal law is “love your neighbor as yourself.” So many things would be covered if would do this one simple thing.
Theft, assault, robbery, murder, all of these would go away if we simply loved our neighbor like we love ourselves. But everybody doesn’t know the royal law. James says we are doing well when we love our neighbors, but showing partiality is not loving our neighbor. He calls it what it is, SIN! And if it is sin then you are convicted.
When I show favoritism, it is a sin.
When I sin I am forgiven.
But I judge other people. Sin
How can I not forgive others and see others as God does and still call myself a Christian.
We are called to forgive as we have been forgiven.
We must be consistent in our faith and our forgiveness.

Consistency In All

James 2:10–13 ESV
10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of 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.
10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of 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 is showing the fallacy of favoritism. It is a sin. If you sin you are guilty. If you commit adultery you are guilty, favoritism-guilty, murder-guilty, favoritism-guilty. If you do any of them you have broken the law. We want to classify sin just like we classify people. Not our job, God’s.
James is showing the fallacy of favoritism. It is a sin. If you sin you are guilty. If you commit adultery you are guilty, favoritism-guilty, murder-guilty, favoritism-guilty. If you do any of them you have broken the law. We want to classify sin just like we classify people. Not our job, God’s.
So, James dispenses some good advice. Speak and act some someone who is under the law of liberty. The law of liberty brings freedom and new life. The law of liberty brings the healing and forgiveness of the gospel. The law of liberty is based on God’s love for all of His creation.
James simply says speak and act like someone who has been forgiven of all their faults.
You can’t be forgiven of all your wrong and the want to hold everybody else accountable for theirs. In its base form this is showing favoritism to yourself and to no one else.
If we expect forgiveness, we should give forgiveness.
If we expect mercy, we should give mercy.
Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Choose mercy!
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