Respect of Persons, sounds innocent enough, no word or phase exercise here. In studying James chapter two we find a different way of viewing the phrase as used. Seems it had come to mean undue and unfair favoritism; it means pandering to others because they are rich or influential or popular. Such favoritism is consistently condemned in biblical writings. It is a fault of which the orthodox Jewish leaders completely acquitted Jesus. Even they were bound to admit that there was no favoritism with him. The case for the condemnation of respecting persons according to their social or group status is wrong and many examples exist to prove this. Peter after his vision in Acts 10:34 learned that there is no partiality in God’s view of people. Romans 2:11, both Jews and Gentiles were subject to the same judgement in God’s sight. This is a view that Paul lays upon his people again and again. The Old and New Testaments condemn partiality of judgment and favoritism of treatment by giving undue weight to a person’s social standing, wealth or worldly influence. Even today we know that at some time we are guilty of this and in some instances it extends into our churches at times.
Proverbs 22:2 The rich and the poor have this in common: the Lord is the maker of them all.
This subject is critical to the ministry of God’s people to His people. There were problems in the early church even though at that time the church was the only place that social distinctions did not exist. You know there had to be some uncomfortable moments, it would only be natural and I will guarantee those moments occur even now after all this time. It is hard for many of us to admit but we do make differences between ourselves and other people and groups. The harsh reality of Christianity is that in the presence of God, all are one. At this point it is important for me to be on record……My greatest concern is the knowledge that every day I fail to serve God, by allowing the world I live in to distract from what I know to be right in God’s eye. The question that begs to be asked is, do you sometimes make judgements based on appearance, status, ethnicity or just the plain fact they aren’t like us.
In James 2:4 the people are called out so to speak,”4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?”
We can look to Matthew 7:1,2 for a blunt to the point judgement of what James is saying.
“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2 For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”
Plain and simple, no misunderstanding…….You are breaking a commandment when you judge others.
In James chapter two verses 5-7 there is a scathing indictment of those who continue to be judgmental. We must be careful as Christians not to engage in a judgement reversal here. The church needs rich and poor but here again is the weight of God’s will for his people….There is no Jew, no Gentile, no rich or poor in God’s eye all are equal. Many in the early church were poor. They heard the message in the streets, in homes and along the trade routes. They came to the church because there they found Hope, Grace, Forgiveness, Welcome and a God that loved all people. A God who loved all people without qualifiers. Here is a lesson we all would do well to note… “the message of Christianity was that those who mattered to no one else mattered intensely to God.” (Daily Bible Study, James pg 76”) In the society that James lived the rich did oppress the poor. In Christ there was welcome for all, especially for those who have no one to welcome them and a value had now been set on those who were once regarded as valueless. I close this weeks blog with these verses from James.
If you perfectly keep the royal law, as the Scripture has it: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself’, you do well. But if you treat people with respect of persons, such conduct is sin and you stand convicted by the law as transgressors. For, if a man keeps the whole law and yet fails to keep it in one point, he becomes guilty of transgressing the law as a whole. For he who said ‘Do not commit adultery’ also said ‘Do not kill’. If you do not commit adultery but kill, you become a transgressor of the law.
God holds all People to be Equal and Sin is Sin, and Sin separates from God. Living a Christian life in a world of different values is not easy and requires a constant effort of a faith that continuously seeks going on to Perfection. I pray your path follows the light that is Jesus Christ….Hope and Love for all people.
Life is Good
The “Daily Bible Study” is a series of NT Books, written by William Barclay and was a source for today’s blog.