Monday, October 15, 2007
James 2:1-13: Partiality
"For whoever keeps the whole law, but falls short in one place, has become guilty in respect to all of it." ~ James 2:10
Mark Twain once wrote a fascinating essay titled "Does the Race of Man Love a Lord?". He argued that people have an innate tendency to view the rich and famous with awe and adulation. Although Twain would not say so, what we give celebrities - even successful, charismatic Christian ministers - is idolatrous lordship. Instead of worshiping the true God who laughs at the pretensions of worldly success, we love earthly lords. Then, when God, in His majesty, permits Satan to topple them (as Job was), we feel disillusioned.
This is not a new, media-driven problem; James identifies this same problem in the first-century Jerusalem church. His congregation, like the Pharisees, gave the rich places of honor and shunned the poor. James doesn't pull any punches; he says the church has become "judges with evil designs" (v.4). He then explains why Christians cannot judge anyone.
We, ourselves, are incapable of keeping the entire law by our own efforts. Some of us may have been judged as lawbreakers by secular courts. Even more of us have a speeding ticket or underage drinking citation on our records. We may not be murderers or adulterers, but we all have shown anger and lusted (Matt. 5:21-22, 27-28). We are all condemned; our only hope is in Jesus the Messiah, whose sacrificial "mercy triumphs over judgment" (v.13).
Let us also commit to a preference for the poor and for poverty of spirit, for James writes (v.5), "Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him?" Amen.