Donate to Support

Support the church that supports this blog. Donate at - Click the donate button in the upper righthand corner.

Monday, May 6, 2024

Impartial Love - A Sermon for Graduates (and Everyone) from James 2:1-13

Today, we gather to celebrate a significant milestone in the lives of our graduates—the completion of their high school or college journey. As we send them off to their next chapters, it’s crucial to reflect on the kind of journey they—and indeed, all of us—are called to embark upon as followers of Christ.

In the Book of James, chapter 2, verses 1 to 13, we find a powerful message about how our faith should be lived out daily. James challenges us to look at our hearts, at our actions, and at the way we treat others.  

We learned last week in James 1:19-27 that Christians must listen to God’s word and then DO IT.  
If we only listen but don’t live it out, we’re only fooling ourselves.  Today, James shares one of the simple ways people will either live out or fail to live out genuine faith.  Let's read these verses, understanding their relevance, not just for our graduates, but for all of us as part of God’s family.

James 2:1-13
1 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old 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,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: 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? But you have dishonored 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 blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Slide – Why is Favoritism So Bad?
Most people can see favoritism is unfair.  Suppose Hank and Jackson are both hired to do the same exact job and both have no experience.  It would be unfair if Jackson got paid twice as much just because the boss was friends with Jackson’s dad.

But favoritism is not just a social faux pas in business; it is fundamentally at odds with the way the Kingdom of God works.  In the family of God, all stand as equals—we are all sinners saved by God’s grace.  If you favor one person over another in the Church because of how much money someone has or how they dress or their connections, you are living by the world’s standards and not God’s standards.  And remember what James said last week, we can’t just hear God’s Word; we must live God’s Word.  So it is absolutely necessary that we put away the old worldly thoughts and attitudes that say:  this person is more valuable, or more desirable because they are esteemed by the worldly standards or wealth, possessions, status, and influence.


Who Do You Look Up To?
I want to challenge our graduates (and all of us) to think about who you value and why.  Who do you want to be like as grow and mature?  Who will you model your life after?

Some might be tempted to measure their life after someone who, by outward appearances, seems to be very wealthy and successful.  But I would challenge you to look beyond external measures of success.  People can easily  fool you with outward appearances.

One man has $80,000 in the bank and a paid-off $1,000 work truck.   People may assume that guy is broke because of what he drives and how he looks.  Another man has a no money in the bank and an $80,000 financed truck he can barely afford.  He is deep in debt and barely making it, but people assume that man is doing great.  It's important not to let material possessions fool you into judging someone. 

James reminds us, God chooses the poor in the world to be rich in faith.  In my 50 years on this earth, here’s what I have observed:  In general, those who are poor are required to have more faith than those who rich.  Let me explain.  The poor often have nowhere else to turn, but to God.  They have very little money to buy their way out of their troubles. 
All they have is God and prayer.  Suppose their car breaks down.  It may be a huge crisis for them.  They cannot afford a big bill with the mechanic to repair their car nor can they just buy another one to replace it.

The rich, on the other hand, often feel like they don’t really need God.  After all, they have their own resources if they run into trouble.  They might not say that out loud or even consciously think it.  But subconsciously, they are aware they have the resources to handle their problems.  If their car breaks down, it is an inconvenience.  However, they can afford to have the car fixed or may just decide to buy a new car.  So they aren't required to trust God since they can trust their own resources.

The world often teaches us to value people for their apparent wealth, influence, and outward appearances—attributes that can be easily misrepresented.  God says value people’s faith and commitment to God and their character.  In fact, you must or else you are not doing God’s Word; you are only pretending to be a Christian.

James 2:8
The royal law of love, first put forth by God in the Old Testament and later affirmed by Jesus in the New Testament is "Love your neighbor as yourself."  And Jesus showed us how to practice this kind of love when He died for us on the cross.  Jesus didn’t love us because we are loveable (for we were sinners who rebelled against God).  Jesus loved us sacrificially because that’s what real love does.

So, we are called to love others this same way.  That means treating all people fairly, avoiding discrimination, showing kindness to all, and working for justice.  I want to encourage our graduates to apply this law everywhere you go—whether at college, in the workplace, or in you community.  And this is how every Christian should live—not just our graduates.

James 2:12-13
In conclusion, let me read again verses 12-13, this time from the New Living Translation.

12 So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. 13 There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.

No comments:

Post a Comment