The Impartial Gospel

Text: James 2:1-13

Big Idea: The mercy Christ has shown us compels us to treat others justly.

The command:

1. Christians must reject partiality. (2:1-4)

The particular kind of discrimination that James is dealing with is this: in church services and social gatherings, some Christians are treating the wealthy with more respect and treating the poor among them with disdain. James calls this “partiality”. And James says this is sin.

If we’re honest, we can all relate to the temptation to reject people who don’t look like us, people who we think are different than us, who we don’t think we have much in common with.

But as those who have been lovingly received by God through the gospel, this should not be. James is saying, “Because of your faith in Jesus, who is the Christ, the Lord of glory, because He saved you by His grace, show that generous grace to others.

2. Partiality is contrary to God’s character. (2:5-8)

God never judges by the outward. We see this all through the Bible. (see 1 Samuel 16:7) In his command to not show partiality, James is appealing to God’s character. To begin with, James points to…

-God’s Election (v.5)
James says showing partiality – to favor the rich and reject the poor – is to completely ignore God’s sovereign election in choosing many who are poor to be saved. (See also 1 Cor. 1:27-29)

-Oppression from the Rich (v. 6-7)
Even though the rich were oppressing believers, these same Christians would trip over themselves to make the rich comfortable, to give them places of honor in their assemblies, and to make the poor person stand up or sit on the floor. James is saying, “What kind of sense does that make? Why would you reject the poor brother and honor the rich guy who dishonors your Savior?”

-Fufill the “Royal Law” (v. 8)
We reflecting the character of our King when we love our neighbor, when we reject partiality, when we reject prejudice and unjust judgment based on the outward, and we show love and mercy.

Instead of showing partiality and prejudice, verse 12 reminds us to live this way: “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.” (James 2:12) James is saying, “Live like those who know they have been forgiven. Speak to others and treat others with the kind of grace you have been given in Christ.” Why? “[13] For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

In Jesus we find our value and acceptance. In him we find grace, and through Him, we can freely give grace to others.

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