Text: James 2:1-13
The last thing that we have discussed about two weeks ago is all about becoming doers of the word and not just being hearers. Today we will start talking about living with a working faith.
Understanding the Case of Favoritism
What is favoritism? Probably some of us are still struggling with the meaning of favoritism. One of the definition in the dictionary concerning favoritism is the “unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prenjudice. I personally picked this definition, because it does fit to our passage today.
There are three kinds for person in the passage; the rich, the poor, and the Christians. The rich and the poor is probably a member or a visitor of the Christian assembly.
James in verses 1-4 is establishing a case here concerning favoritism. It simply says that it is favoritism if you gave a better seat to a wealthy person and gave the least of the seat to the poor. Here we see that there is something with the decision of giving the people a seat.
To better understand what we are saying here, we can see that James is actually referring to people who tries to look at the outside appearance of a person rather than the inside appearance. This is like judging the book by its cover.
It is important to know that the author made emphasis that a “judgement” has alreadyy been committed followed by actions that shows favoritism.
Argument Against Favoritism
In verses 5-7, James is now making an argument why “favoritism” is a form of ungodliness and does not benefit us at all. “Listen my dear brothers,” a very strong emphasis to start his reasoning by getting the attention of his readers.
Before going deeper, the message is somewhat collective and maybe not true in our individual cases. However, we can definitely learn lots of things from it because it both touches the poor and the rich. Please do note that though the author made so much emphasis against the rich people, it is still undeniable the the poor should be watchful within themselves as well. It is because in contrast to the poor being pictured here, there are poor that were full of pride, wrath, malice, and lust for money.
Now let us go deeper in his arguments point by point:
God chose the poor in the eyes of the world to become rich in the faith and become an heir of God’s kingdom if we love him. This is a very good reminder to all of us who are poor that we are suppose to be rich in the faith because we are an heir of God’s kingdom. It does not mean however, that it is because of being poor that we will inherit God’s kingdom but because of the faith and our love to him who created us. Therefore, it is very important that we need to exercise faith all the more.
The rich are exploiters. Now this is a little harsh on the side of James. But we have to understand that this is probably what James is seeing in his own time. Probably, he have seen rich people exploiting those who are poor. Forcing them to labor so hard and paying them so little.
The rich drag people to court. Even in our time, people use to drag each other in court hearings. But don’t we know that Apostle Paul already have warned us about dragging our fellow brothers in Christ for court settlements? 1 Corinthians 6:7 says; “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?”
The rich slanders the name of Jesus. I don’t know if we have that in our group. But I guess this is a fair warning against the rich that we should not put our faith on our wealth because it is fading, and will not last forever. When Jesus said, it is easier for a camel to go through an eye of the needle than to enter the kingdom of God, he meant it.
This is because sometimes, the rich have put themselves on money and is so worried of loosing their wealth just like the rich man who said he wants to follow Christ, but cannot leave his wealth behind.
Warning Against Favoritism
Verses 8-11 now focus on the warning against favoritism. The author rightly affirms that “Loving our neighbor” is definitely following God. But here we also see that favoritism is a sin and once we commit this, we can be branded as law breakers.
James in his intent to justify and prove what he is saying, he make a simple analogy of being a sinner. Here he confirms that wether we commit a small or big sin, there is no difference at all because we become lawbrakers.
Perhaps his audience is just like us who wants to make an appeal that what James is saying is too harsh and just a very small mistake. James made it clear however that there is no such thing as small or big sin. All these will be judged by God.
How Are We Suppose To Live Then?
Here’s a very nice conclusion for this matter by the author. It says: “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
What triumphs over judgment? Mercy. Just like God who gave his mercy to humanity despite of its guiltiness and is due the penalty of sin.