Focus: Real faith involves treating others equally as God would and not based on social status. (The rationale behind treatment of the poor is God’s “choice” of the poor and the law - law and law of liberty)
Function: To motivate hearer to be impartial with love and honor.
Intro: 1. Oxymorons 2. However, some things are inseparably connected. (James 2:1-13) 3. (v.2:1) Faith in Christ and how you treat others are inseparably connected 4. How? Connections: I. Since God chose the poor, we should not disdain them (v.1-5) A. v.5 - God chose the poor B. What does it mean to say God chose the poor? 1. Take a minute to think of the nature of God’s Kingdom: 2. Dt. 7:7 - “The Lord did not set his love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the people, for you were the fewest of all the peoples." 3. Lk 4:18-21 - “He annointed me to preacher the Gospel to the poor...” a. In context, this passage in Isaiah was talking about the restoration of the kingdom, or “reign” of God b. Jesus was bringing this prophecy to fulfillment 4. Lk 7:20-22 - John the Baptist wanted to know if Jesus was the one a. How would Jesus demonstrate that he is the one? b. Blind-see; lame-walk; lepers-cleansed; deaf-hear; dead-raised c. Saved the best for last - Poor have gospel preached to them 5. 1 Cor 1:26 - Consider your calling - not many wise, mighty, noble. God chose foolish things of the world...weak...base & despised...things that are nothing to nullify the things that are. 6. HERE James says God chose poor for two things: a. To be rich in faith - Dispel myth that it is evil to be rich (Abraham was rich) - The typical disposition of the poor is the ideal - Humility, reliance on God are both typical - And God holds them up as examples b. To be heirs of the kingdom - Lk 6:20 - Blessed are you poor, yours is kingdom of God - Mt 18:1-4 - Must be converted & become like children or will the not enter kingdom - Kingdom belongs to humble and trusting C. ILL: An ancient church manual for church in Ethiopia 1. If rich man comes in, presbyter not to do anything & let the church welcome the visitor 2. If a poor man comes in, presbyter was to make sure that the poor man was welcome and had a place to sit, even if he had to give up his own seat D. We should treat those who are poor with honor and dignity 1. Don’t judge someone by their appearance 2. God has always been concerned with the heart, not veneer 3. As a matter in fact, God is completely impartial II. Since God is impartial, we should be impartial A. There are passages that explicitly state that God does not show partiality 1. Rom 2:11 - No partiality with God 2. Acts 10:34 - Peter - “I understand God not show partiality” B. That God is impartial is clearly implied in this text as well. How ? 1. v.4 - When show partiality, you make “distinctions” among yourselves a. Grk: diakrino (to distinguish, doubt, judge, divide) b. Ax 11:12 - Gentiles came to Peter, and he was to go with them without (diakrino) “making a distinction” - Same word as Jas 4:4 - Gentile-Jewish distinction now meaningless in the kingdom - Poor-Rich distinction also meaningless in the kingdom 2. This is why the text says that when you make distinctions, it is with “evil motives” a. “Motives” means something more like “thoughts” or “reasonings” b. Grk: Prosopolempsia (partiality) - “To receive the face” outward appearance c. That is what the world does d. We are no longer to think like the world, no distinction 3. Kingdom is a counter-cultural community a. Paul & companions accused of turning the world upside-down b. Jas 1:9-10 - Poor glory in high position, rich in humiliation c. Eph 6:5-9 - slave/master to treat each other as brothers. Why? d. Not conformed to this world, but transfored (Rm 12:2) 4. This could all be summed up in one word: LOVE a. We must fulfill the “royal” law (or “law of the king”) - James point - serious crime when you don’t fulfill the royal law b. In the kingdom, the law is summed up in one word - love c. AND GOD CHOSE THE POOR TO BE HEIRS OF IT C. ILL: Story of a man who decided to come to church 1. Never been to church 2. Walked in with old jeans, worn denim jacket 3. Visitors seats were full, walked all the way up front, sat down on floor 4. Senior respected member of church got up, sat down next to him 5. That gesture communicated this - Welcome! D. What do we communicate 1. Does dress, hair, peircings, etc. dictate what we communicate? 2. Do we communicate - You wont fit in here? Or Welcome? 3. Need to remember each of us here by God’s invitation - Freedom III. Since God is a God of freedom, we should live like free people (v.12-13) A. James now calls the “royal” law, the "law of freedom" B. Why does James now describe our law as the law of freedom? 1. With the word “law,” you may be tempted to think of Paul in Romans - In Christ we are free from law 2. However, the context seems to indicate a different kind of “freedom” 3. James specifically said that this "law" is “Love neighbor as self” - What is freeing about that? 4. Col 3:11 - Have put on the new self who is being renewed in a true knowledge according to the image of the one who created him - a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, scythian, slave, and freeman, but Christ is all and in all a. God freed us from corruption b. God is renewing us according to his image c. We are all in his image, therefore no distinction d. This is what it means to “love neighbor as self” e. This is part of Christian freedom 5. Better glimpse of this type of freedom in the kingdom before: a. Lev 19:15 - Rich, poor is to make no difference in justice b. Lev 19:9-10 - Not harvest to edge of field - Poor provided for not by handout - They still had to work and glean for it 6. Kingdom is a place that preserves honor and dignity for the poor C. Kingdom people give with honor 1. Give honor, love, charity, encouragement, help, 2. Kingdom people give without partiality 3. Kingdom people help maintain honor , because God’s image 4. IN this way, Kingdom people are free from class distinctions D. Am I free? Do I live by the law of freedom/liberty? Summed up in - LOVE Concl: 1. If you do all this, then you are practicing true faith 2. True faith and God’s nature go hand in hand a. Because God chose the poor, we should not disdain them b. Because God is impartial, we should be impartial c. Because God is a God of freedom, we should live like free people 3. Are we practicing our faith according to God’s nature?