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People Are Not Ice Cream

Faith In Action: A Study of James  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  32:44
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It is true that people are not ice cream. If we were we would not last a second in this Texas heat.
Even though people are not ice cream we tend to have a preference we go to over the others. We walk in the ice cream shop and look at the options, knowing exactly what we are going to get before we walk in. We have a preference and we are prejudiced towards that choice.
We tend to do the same towards people. We will look at people and make a prejudiced decision by their looks, much like we do with ice cream.
Prejudiced means a “prejudgment…form an opinion before knowing all the facts.”
We all have a personal favorite with ice cream and many other sweet treats. We also have some people we rather be around than others. We will pick people and avoid others only to miss something from them.
We can know that this is not the appropriate way to handle people by thinking if this is the way we want to be handled. We can make sound and better decisions about people and when we sit aside our prejudices and thoughts.
General Robert E. Lee was a devout follower of Jesus Christ. It is said that soon after the end of the American Civil War, he visited a church in Washington, D.C. During the communion service he knelt beside a black man. An onlooker said to him later, "How could you do that?" Lee replied, "My friend, all ground is level beneath the cross."
That is how we can be in all situations. We can accept many people through the door of the church and love them and share truth and life with them and not let their looks or even life make us not accept them.
This is what we see in this section of James.
In James 2:1-13 we see,
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.
We see many things in this that preference causes, and none are good. The first thing we see is...

Preference By Appearance Corrupts (1-4)

Looking back to verse 19 and the quick to hear point, being quick to hear God’s word will help us to avoid favoritism. We can become like these readers and become susceptible to partiality in oppressive circumstances–trials and tests, and show partiality in hope of assistance.
This may be understandable but it is unacceptable. It is not how we should be. If we are we have allowed preference by appearance to corrupt us.
We are no different than these readers of this letter. We may have faced difficult situations and have financial difficulties. We may have temptations from that to focus on wealth, which is what we see in this letter in Jas.4:13, and envious of the rich as in Jas. 2:2, and tempted to become worldly as in Jas 4:4.
This may lead us to think of God as miserly, unmerciful, or even an angry and unkind God. That is why we are told to ask for wisdom in faith (Jas. 1:5-6) and do it without doubting, also why we are told to be quick to hear (Jas. 1:19). When we do this, we can make appropriate decisions and not become judges with evil thoughts as verse four tells us.
Think of it like this scenario,
Imagine you are on the welcome committee at a church that has been experiencing an ongoing budget shortfall. It is Sunday morning. During the sermon, you look to your left and notice someone who must have slipped in after the service started. He is well dressed in a hand-tailored suit, early fifties, with CEO hair. After a moment, you remember he’s the owner of several large car dealerships in your area. You glance around once again. On the opposite side, in the back, you notice another new person. He is wearing ragged clothing. It is clear that he did not shower or shave for this day in church. His eyes are bloodshot, and it looks like he had trouble rolling out of bed this morning. He too looks familiar. Where have you seen him before? Oh, yeah! He was the guy who recently changed your oil at the Quickie Oil Change. No one is sitting close to him either. The service ends. Both men are leaving the church. No one is talking to them. Worse, they are headed out doors at opposite sides of the church. You will only be able to catch up to one of them. Imagine that whichever one you actually talk to will come back again next week and even start attending the church. Who do you run after? (Samra, Jim. James, 1 & 2 Peter, and Jude (Teach the Text Commentary Series). Grand Rapids: Baker, 30-31. Kindle Edition.)
What do you do? Which one do you go to? How do you handle this situation?
Both need to be reached but most would instinctively go after the man with the money because the church can always use more money. We make judgments based on appearance. We do the opposite of God. In 1 Samuel 16:7 Samuel is sent to anoint the new king. He is looking at appearance and God tells him that He does n ot look on man as we do but He looks on the inside and sees them.
We cannot do that. We can only see the outside. That is what James is saying. We do not need to judge based on that. We are to see all people as the same and give each the same opportunity.
We can reach all people if we listen to the word and see that all are wanted by the Lord. We can stand firm with the Lord and not allow sin in the church but allow people who are sinners in need to come in.
We can get both the shabby man and the rich man when we see both through the proper lens. We get another person in the church to go to one and we to the other but we go to both the same way and not one over the other.
Because when we do...

Preference By Appearance Misdirects (5-7)

We are turned to three good questions now. James asks is it not the poor that God has chosen to be rich in faith. This is not saying the poor are better than the rich or anything else but it is saying that the poor trust God more and have a stronger faith because they have more trials and tests.
The wealthy can get out of much with their wealth and can become dependent on their wealth over God. The poor will demonstrate to all that faith is more abundant than any wealth. They do this through staying faithful and trusting God through it all because they have nothing else. The wealthy may see that and then turn to that way.
Not only that, but the wealthy then were very oppressive and `used that to gain influence and their way. As one commentator has written, “The word katadynasteuō (oppress) indicates acting in an oppressive way, using wealth to exercise power and influence over others for selfish ends.” (Samra, Jim, 27).
These are the same who blaspheme as we see in verse 7, not because they are wealthy, nor that all wealthy people are this way, but they do so because they reject God because of their money. They have all that is needed and that is all that matters. They do not need God, they think.
I can attest to this because when I have visited the upper middle class neighborhoods and the upper class neighborhoods, they have no time for the Lord, but in the poorer ones, they have time and a need.
Why do we seek the wealthy over the poor? Because we have bought into the idea that money can get us influence and power and if we only had more money in the church we could reach so many more. We could have this and that and impact more.
We have bought into a lie that Satan wants us to hold to. We become like this man’s references.
There's a wonderful story about a Chicago bank that once asked for a letter of recommendation on a young Bostonian being considered for employment. The Boston investment house could not say enough about the young man. His father, they wrote, was a Cabot; his mother was a Lowell. Further back was a happy blend of Saltonstalls, Peabodys, and other of Boston's first families. His recommendation was given without hesitation. Several days later, the Chicago bank sent a note saying the information supplied was altogether inadequate. It read: "We are not contemplating using the young man for breeding purposes. Just for work." Neither is God a respecter of persons but accepts those from every family, nation, and race who fear Him and work for His kingdom. (
They thought his lineage was enough when it was not anywhere near what the bank wanted. They pushed him without reason but because of his family and their wealth. We do not do that but we take all people because just as the illustration ended, God is not a respecter of persons and neither should we be. We need to allow all in and love all the same because if we do not and if we allow something to come between then...

Preference By Appearance Rejects Our Neighbor (8-11)

If we allow appearance to guide us and direct our choices of who we accept, then we reject the royal law by rejecting our neighbor. When we love our neighbor and accept them as they are, poor or wealthy, we are fulfilling the royal law.
Now, this is not saying we allow them all in abut still embrace the better off more. No, it says all the same way.
Now, it is the same way in love and concern but we all know each has a different gifting and ability so we do have difference but all for the upbuilding of the body and never for one to be considered better than the other.
So, if we pick people like we pick our ice cream, we have transgressed the law and are convicted of breaking it.
The royal law is one you have heard me say many times, Matt. 22:39 “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Who is our neighbor? Jesus tells us that in the parable of the good Samaritan. The Samaritan stopped and helped the injured man. He was the neighbor to him. That means we are to care for all and not be choosy. Meaning, everyone is our neighbor.
If we reject loving all people, not affirming what they do, but loving them, then we have transgressed against the Lord.
We see that James connects the favoritism over another with committing adultery and murder. What this means is “Just as murder kills life and adultery kills marriage, favoritism kills identity. Those who constantly experience discrimination for not being rich can lose any sense of who they really are as children of God.” (Samra, Jim, 28).
To reject someone because they do not fit your preference is the same as breaking these. We have hated them without saying we hate them. If we reject them by their appearance we have expressed hate whether we feel we have or not.
We also have not matured as we should. We have not taken the teachings from the Lord to heart and grown in our faith.
Looking at Jas. 1:25; 2:8; 2:10 we see that the law is “perfect,” and those who “obey” its commands “fulfill” the law of loving one’s neighbor and are therefore perfect/mature.
Showing preference is not how we grow and gain maturity in the faith. We can have maturity by asking God for wisdom in how we are to act. We can grow when we seek the Lord to give us grace for everybody. We can grow to a strong and robust faith in all situations when we seek the word of God and listen to it. We can be loving and caring faithful followers of Jesus Christ who allows everyone to come in to the church and feel loved when we seek Him for His all-sufficient grace.
This is what James is telling us here. The royal law found in Matt. 22:39; Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14 is that we love our neighbor as ourselves. We do this because Christ has loved us when we were enemies Rom. 5:6-8. Who are we to not do the same?
Because when we do not we have allowed another evil aspect to come in...

Preference By Appearance Rejects Mercy (12-13)

When we judge by appearance and our preferences, we have left mercy behind.
Just as I said above we have received much mercy from the Lord when we were still His enemies. He died for us all, not just a few people we think are worthy.
Jesus has cancelled all our debt, who are we to be choosy? We need to welcome all–rich and poor alike, as sinners needing grace.
Just like the men from the first illustration. The wealthy CEO and the shabby dressed man, each need Jesus and neither are any better in the eyes of the Lord but both on the same plain: sinners needing salvation.
We need to show the same mercy we have received. We can show them the same mercy we have received when we ask God for the wisdom to do so. We can love them all like the Lord has when we ask for the strength and ability to do so.
We need to ask in faith and trust God to deliver and then act on that. We cannot ask and sit to the side and expect people to know we love them. We need to go to them and say it and say how thankful we are they are here, regardless their looks.
We do not need to be like this piece I have read. It has a picture of a ragged biker sitting between several well-dressed and fine “Christians.”
One on one side says, “He thinks he is a Christians.” Two on another side say, “You aren’t a true follower like us.’ While the biker is looking into the Word of truth saying, “Christ my heart is yours.”
Those people had preferences and rejected this man because of how he looked. They rejected mercy and love for what they say was mercy and love.
That is why James said we are to speak and act as those who have been judged under the law of liberty in verse 12. We act in love from the love we have received. We have received forgiveness and freedom in Christ. We can speak and act in that to others. We can give them grace because we have received grace. We can only do this when we let the Word become implanted in us and ask God for wisdom in all situations.
We cannot do it alone, but with the Lord working fully in us, we can show grace and mercy to all because we have received this grace and mercy.
We cannot be condemned in Christ as we are His forever, But we will be judged and rewarded on how we have conducted ourselves in this life.
We can be merciful and loving to all people when we see that the Lord has been for us and that we will be blessed with hearing something along the lines of “well done my good and faithful servant” when we meet the Lord.
I pray we all rest in that grace and see that we can be impartial and care for all if we allow the Lord to guide us in all things.


Our preferences can be a massive hindrance to our witness. We can turn many away because they are not right for us. I thank the Lord we are about allowing all people in this church but even we can become preferential and reject some.
We can avoid this when we remember the four preferences from this section of Scripture.
Preference by Appearance Corrupts
Preference by Appearance Misdirects Us
Preference by Appearance Rejects Our Neighbors
Preference by Appearance Rejects Mercy
When we remember this and seek Christ to fill us with His word of truth and ask God for wisdom, we can put our faith in action and impact the world for the Lord even more.
He is worthy and has gifted us to be able to serve Him in so many ways. Trust Him and rest in His wisdom and allow Him to work through you through faith and you can be a strong and caring Christian who sees the work of Christ as far superior to any preference we may have.
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