James 2:1-4 says “1My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 2for if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4Are you not then partial in yourselves, and are become Judges of evil thoughts.
This chapter starts straight off with James giving us a direction. The opening phrase “My brethren” makes these verses relevant to all believers; so this is speaking to ALL of us. the verse continues “have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons”. This phrasing at first may seem confusing; at least it was for me. The first time I read over this it sounded like it was saying not to have the faith of Jesus, but in the context of the rest of the verse it makes sense. The verse is not saying not to have the faith of Jesus, but instead not to mingle the faith of Jesus with the “respect of persons”. We see clearly that faith and respect do not go together. James gives us a clear warning against it.
Verse 2 starts out with the word “for” showing that an example is going to be made which emphasises verse 1. Verse 2 and 3 says (verse 3 is a direct continuation from verse 2 so I’m putting them together) “ 2for if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool”. Here is James’ example of verse one. He sets out the scenario of a rich man coming into their “assembly”. This rich man comes in flaunting a gold ring and nice clothes; but he is followed in by a poor man who has dirty smelly clothes. The assembly greet the rich man and have respect for him and offer him a fine seat, while they shun the poor man, telling him to stand off to the side or offering him to sit beneath the feet of another man like a dog sits by his owner. In these verses James in challenging the attitude of the whole congregation. He is questioning their attitude both as individuals and as a unit. While this book has been around for thousands of years it is sad to say that the attitude problem has not. Still today churches welcome those dressed and in possession of fine things while they reject the homeless man with nothing. However this cannot be. From verse 1 we see that faith and respect of persons cannot coexist. Jesus spent the majority of His time with the poor and lowly and often ignored those who thought highly of themselves and expected respect. Matthew 22:16 says “And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.” We see here from Matthew that Jesus didn’t regard the person of men. He didn’t hold anyone in high regard. He didn’t offer respect to those who thought they deserve it. Instead Jesus saw people for what they were, not who they were. He saw their need for salvation. He saw them as sinners in need of a saviour. As Christians do you not think we should have the same attitude? Can we not put away our pride and ‘social standards’ to see that the rich man needs Jesus just as much as the poor man?
Verse 4 goes on to explain. The verse says “Are you not then partial in yourselves, and are become Judges of evil thoughts.” James is saying here that when we have respect for men then are we become “partial” in ourselves. How can we say that we love all people if we reject people because of their life situation? James is explaining that we can’t say one thing and do another because this makes us partial. As we have seen from chapter one of James a double minded man is unstable in all his ways; then so too is the Christian unstable if he says one thing but does another contrary to what he said. The verse continues on “and are become Judges of evil thoughts.” The bible here is telling us that this attitude of respect to men is nothing less that judgement. When we adopt this attitude of respect to the rich and loathing for the poor we become Judges of evil thoughts. This phrase “evil thoughts” is very true. To look down upon someone must mean we think we are higher than they are. This self-exaltation in itself is a form of evil. When we think ourselves higher than someone else we are being judgmental.
Let me ask you tonight, is your faith mingled with respect for men? Will you only be friends with the rich while ignoring the poor? Do you treat all men equal? Can you look past their exterior to their need for a saviour? Are you partial in that what you say and what you do are in two different places? Do you proclaim to love all people but yet wouldn’t give the gospel to a homeless man? My friends, I pray that you do not become Judges of evil thoughts. Do not have respect of men, because in this you cannot be like Christ. Search your heart today and search for any pride that would give you the thoughts that you are better than anyone. Realise today that the rich man and poor man are both equal, they are both in need of Jesus. Will you take them both the gospel? – Andrew
Posted on September 16, 2012, in Andrew's Thoughts for the Day and tagged Bible, Christianity, Faith, God, Gospel of Matthew, James, Jesus, Lord, Religion and Spirituality, Witness. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.