Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Prejudice is Sin...[168]

My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism.
[James 2:1]
James' point is that faith in Christ and partiality are incompatible. It's the idea of judging others solely on external face values. It's important to note that James is not condemning the kind of discernment that comes from a thorough understanding of another's character. What he is dealing with here is our tendency to be prejudiced toward others because of superficial judgments based on outward appearances.
Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet,"...
[James 2:2-3]
Partiality means favouring one person over another based on outward appearance, fine apparel and materialism. Partiality means discriminating against people. Partiality means using corrupt standard to make judgements.
...have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
[James 2:4]
Two things are clarified in this verse:
  • What was done: The usher "make distinctions." He discriminated based on appearances, exalting one and mistreating another.
  • Why it was done: because of evil motives... motives such as catering to the rich, in hopes of selfish gain or to maintain class distinctions or simply out of pride and contempt.

Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? [James 2:5]

Theological reason: Prejudice is inconsistent with God's Methods

Is James saying that God is partial toward the financially poor? No, of course not. James is imply saying that, from God's perspective, the real issue is the condition of one's soul. God bases his choices on the heart, not the wallet.

But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? [James 2:6-7]

Logical reason: Prejudice Ignores the Universality of Sin

Besides the fact that it was foolish to exalt the very people who persecuted them, James reminds his readers that by catering to the rich, they were denying that the wealthy are sinners and need the grace of God like all the rest.

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbour as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favouritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. [James 2:8-9]

The authority of the Bible: Prejudice is Sinful because it is Inconsistent with Scripture

But if you show partiality, then you have sinned and become a lawbreaker. These kinds of prejudices produce cliques, gossip mongers, legalists and power-hungry groups in churches who put enormous pressure on others to their rules of behaviour.

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. [James 2:10-11]

While it's true that some sins are more heinous than others, it is not true that we're any less guilty of breaking God's law simply because we only show partiality instead of committing murder.

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