Let Us Be Fair Question: What do we feel about these two pictures? Another question: can we do anything about it?
Let Us Be Fair In per capita terms South Africa is an upper-middle- income country, but despite this relative wealth, the experience of most South African households is of outright poverty or of continuing vulnerability to being poor. In addition, the distribution of income and wealth in South Africa is among the most unequal in the world, and many households still have unsatisfactory access to education, health care, energy and clean water. Poverty and Inequality in South Africa Report prepared for the Office of the Executive Deputy President and the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Poverty and Inequality
Let Us Be Fair Here is a comment of a church member in the United States, “… a particular member of my church refers to her fellow members as coming to have their ‘white, middle- class social club’ instead of getting serious about spirituality and education the way she thinks they should.” Question: would you feel “at home”, or comfortable being a part of this church?
Let Us Be Fair What is our attitude towards people around us?
Let Us Be Fair Where are we? Let us be doers of the Word James 1:21-27 Let us be fair to one another James 2:1-13 That is, WE MUST SHOW NO PARTIALITY TOWARDS ONE ANOTHER!
Let Us Be Fair First of all: we become JUDGMENTAL as we show partiality BASED ON MAN-MADE STANDARDS (vv. 1-4). Context = SYNAGOGE (v. 2; literally, “assembly”) that could refer to a COURT OF LAW or a JEWISH, a CHRISTIAN CONGREGATION
Let Us Be Fair What exactly happened? The word “partiality” literally means “lifting up the face” which is a two-edged sword!!! The LORD lift up His countenance upon you … (Num. 6:26) … You shall not be partial to the poor (Lev. 19:15) Vs. PARTIALITY WAS ALREADY A REALITY IN THE FIRST- CENTURY CHURCHES (vv. 2-4): the cultural had infiltrated the spiritual!! This is why James prohibited them from doing this – he basically said to the JEWISH CHRISTIANS, “You’d better stop doing this right now!!!”
Let Us Be Fair What, in effect, is at the heart of partiality? JUDGMENT, a right that ONLY GOD HAS. Even though we judge, we just according to GOD’S STANDARDS AND NOT OURS. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor to the poor (Lev. 19:15b) The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether (Ps. 19:9b) … and sends rain on the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45) …has God cast away His people? Certainly not (literally “May it never be!”) (Rom. 11:1) IMPARTIALITY
Let Us Be Fair James’ prohibition was – and is – clear (v. 1)! So, what, then? DO AS JESUS DID AND DOES, For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Rom. 10:4) ＋ My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matt. 11:30) Authentic impartiality, righteousness becomes a reality as GOD’S PEOPLE DO WHAT THEIR LORD DOES!!!
Let Us Be Fair Secondly: being judgmental IS A DISGRACE TO OUR CHRISTIAN IDENTITY (vv. 5-7). Two keys, “chosen” and “have dishonored”: “choose” = eklegeomai Literally, “elect” (Matt. 24:31; Rom. 11:7; 1Pet. 1:10, 2:9; 2Pet. 1:10) BEHAVIORAL PATTERNS ARE ASSOCIATED !!! “dishonor” = atimazo Literally, “treat shamefully”, “insult” (Jn. 8:49; Rom. 1:24) Implying
Let Us Be Fair As a spiritually poor “chosen generation” (Matt. 5:3; 1Pet. 2:9-10; James 2:5), what should be the behavioral pattern that demonstrates the Christian identity? Some examples: –“You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD” (Lev. 19:18) –“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16) –“Let love be without hypocrisy …” (Rom. 12:9)
Let Us Be Fair James said: Why? As Christians become partial in any way, they will NO LONGER BEHAVE IN THE PATTERN OF A CHOSEN GENERATION. Examples, abuse of the legal system, the “middle-class social club”, … Showing partiality to the poor ＝ Disgrace to the poor (v. 6) No different from the rich (vv. 6b-7) ＋
Let Us Be Fair Thirdly, being judgmental IS A SIN (or hamartia; vv. 8-13). –Our Lord has made it clear that the two commandments are equally important, and “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40) What does this imply? THAT WE MUST DO EVERYTHING!!! Love the LORD with everything we are (Deut. 6:4) Love the neighbor as oneself (Deut. 19:18; James 2:8)
Let Us Be Fair How is it possible to “do everything”? –Question: do we have to follow these signs? What if we don’t? –Is it not ironic that we obey earthly authorities, but when it comes to the Divine Authority, we become hesitant – or DELIBERATELY DISOBEDIENT!! ＝
Let Us Be Fair Remember: –OBEDIENCE IS NOT AN OPTION. And THERE IS NO ROOM OR SELECTIVE OBEDIENCE (v. 10). The Sixth Commandment, “You shall not murder.” (Exod. 20:13; James 2:11) The Seventh Commandment, “You shall not commit adultery.” (Exod. 20:14; James 2:11) Why these two commandments in particular? Because they speak heavily on MORAL JUDGMENT!! Along with partiality, they are all moral judgments on others that THEY ARE INFERIOR!! (cf. Matt. 5:21-30) –THE BASIS OF OBEDIENCE IS “law of liberty”, i.e. LOVE. (vv. 12-13; James 1:25)
Let Us Be Fair Question: What do we feel about these two pictures? Another question: can we do anything about it? The LORD lift up His countenance upon you … (Num. 6:26) ＝ THE LORD’S GRACE AND MERCY