(Acts 10:34) "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:"
He was quite correct. God is not a respecter of persons…He does not show partiality or favoritism, and neither should we!
(James 2:1) "My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons."
What is James talking about here? He is warning the believer against showing favoritism or partiality. Which means to pay special attention to a person because of his wealth, social standing, position, authority, popularity, looks, or influence.
I. General Warning Against Showing Favoritism.
A. We are all sinners saved by grace.
1. Everyone who is born again is a brother.
2. Everyone stands on an equal footing before the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. Wealth, status, social standing, position, appearance does not matter.
4. Nothing matters except all men coming to the Lord Jesus Christ and worshipping Him.
B. Jesus Christ is Lord of all.
1. Everyone who has faith in our Lord Jesus Christ bows before Him as Lord.
2. This means that the person bows before Christ as a servant or slave.
3. We all come to Him on an equal footing; no one is higher or more acceptable than anyone else; All are His servants or slaves.
C. Consider Him
1. Jesus Christ is the Lord who left the glory of heaven and came to this corruptible world to save all men.
2. He humbled Himself, and laid aside all the glory, majesty, brilliance, and splendor of heaven itself and came in utter poverty and humiliation to this earth in order to save us.
3. If the Lord of glory loved us that much, then all who believe and follow Him must humble themselves and love the poor and lowly of this earth just as much.
"Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment; thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour" (Leviticus 19:15).
"I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality" (1 Tim. 5:21).
"These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment" (Proverbs 24:23).
II. The Picture of Partiality. v2-3
A. There must be no misunderstanding about what is meant by partiality.
1. Two unbelievers visit the church. One man is sharply dressed, so much so that it is immediately noticed that he is somewhat wealthy.
2. He has on the finest of clothes and an expensive gold ring.
3. The other man is shabbily dressed, and it is immediately noticed that he is very poor.
4. The Greek word for the kind of clothing he is wearing means filthy and dirty.
5. The man is so poor that he is actually a dirty, smelly beggar or derelict from off the streets.
B. What happens when these two men visit the church?
1. The picture painted by Scripture is that of showing partiality to the rich man.
2. The rich man is escorted to a good seat.
3. But the poor man is told to stand or be seated over there away from everyone else.
4. He is treated as being less important than the rest of us.
5. He is treated no better than a servant who sits at the footstool of our feet.
C. Note the implication.
1. The two men represent the extreme ends of wealth and poverty.
2. If partiality is not to be shown in this case, then it is never to be shown.
3. There are to be absolutely no distinctions within the church, no distinctions of social class, standing, position, wealth, prestige, or recognition.
4. How often has a poor person visited our church and was not welcomed with open arms?
5. How many of us have felt uneasy and uncomfortable around them?
6. Have we ignored, neglected, and shunned them?
7. Have we failed to greet and welcome them?
8. This is not of Christ…it is wrong.
"Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy" (Psalm 82:3).
III. What is Wrong with Showing Favoritism.
A. It sets us up as the judge of men (v4a)
1. That puts us in the place of God.
2. It says who can worship God and who cannot, who is acceptable to God and who is not.
3. Only God Himself can determine who He will accept and not accept.
"Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way" (Romans 14:13).
"Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God" (1 Cor. 4:5).
"There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and destroy: who art thou that judgest another?" (James 4:12).
B. It reveals our evil thoughts (v4b).
1. The person who shows partiality focuses upon mundane and changeable things, things such as clothes, cars, houses, and all the other outward things that change, things that rapidly waste away, rot, and decay.
2. Such thoughts are corrupt because they focus upon corruptible things and neglect the person entirely.
3. It says that material things such as clothes and cars are more important than the person himself.
4. This, of course, is foolishness.
5. Yet it is exactly how most people behave, for most people in the world show partiality.
6. Believers are never to show partiality, not to a single soul…We are to look at the person himself.
a. What matters is that he be saved and come to know the love, joy, and peace that only Christ can bring him.
b. Then and only then can he fulfill his purpose for being on earth and make the greatest possible contribution to society and Christ.
"Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions" (Matthew 19:21-22).
"Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others" (Phil. 2:4).
C. Showing partiality discriminates against the poor and lowly, a people who are loved by God (v5).
1. This verse is not saying that God does not love and care for the rich and high.
2. He does, but He also cares and loves the poor and lowly.
3. In fact, they have been the very ones who have found so much hope in the gospel and have turned to it in great numbers.
"I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor" (Psalm 140:12).
D. Showing partiality shows a disgraceful attitude (v6a).
1. It dishonors, humiliates, shames, disgraces, and insults the poor and lowly person.
2. No believer is to ever make a person feel unwelcomed or of little value and worth.
3. Believers are to have open hearts and arms, welcoming everyone into their lives, homes, and churches.
4. All believers are to live as Christ lived: to love and care for all and to reach out for all.
"The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the rich hath many friends" (Proverbs 14:20).
"All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? He pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him" (Proverbs 19:7).
E. It also shows foolish behavior (v6b-7).
1. What about the rich?
a. The rich and high usually oppress the poor.
b. The idea is that they use the law unjustly in order to protect and increase their wealth and power.
c. The rich and high usually blaspheme the name of Christ.
1) They blaspheme His name by denying, mocking, ridiculing, persecuting, neglecting, ignoring, and rejecting Him as the Savior of the world.
2) The rich and high usually feel self-sufficient, because they have everything they need upon earth.
3) Therefore, they think little about needing anything.
d. But They forget two things:
1) That everything they have fades away, and death is just around the corner.
2) That they must face whatever lies right beyond this world and life: God Himself.
"Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble" (Psalm 41:1).
IV. Specific Warnings Against Being a Respecter of Persons.
A. It is sin. (v8-9)
B. It makes us guilty of the whole law of God (v10).
C. It is just as serious a sin as adultery and killing (v11).
D. God will judge Sin. (v12-13)
How we treat others reflects our relationship to God. James warns us tonight to not be respecters of persons. We are challenged to be like Christ. Are we guilty of having respect of persons? Maybe it isn't about their economic status…perhaps it is about their age…their appearance…etc. People need the Lord…all people, from all backgrounds and cultures!
(Mat 5:16) "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."