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August 31, 2022 4:00 am
Bible makes it clear that showing favoritism is un-biblical. So how did Jesus teach so many people rich and poor religious pagan without ever showing partiality today on Truth for Life. Alastair Begg takes a closer look at the example Jesus set for us know you have your Bible open.
I'm sure at James but I like to read read the first seven verses this time in JB Phillips paraphrase Sir James chapter 2 in verse one. Don't ever attempt my brothers to combine snobbery with faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ suppose one man comes into your meeting well-dressed and with a gold ring on his finger and another man obviously poor arrives in shabby clothes. If you pay special attention to the well-dressed man by saying please sit here.
It's an excellent seat and say to the poor man you stand over there, please.
Or if you must sit on the floor does not prove that you're making distinctions in your mind and setting yourselves up to assess the men's quality of very bad thing for do notice my brothers that God chose poor men whose only wealth was their faith and made them heirs to the kingdom promised to those who love him. And if you behave as I have suggested it is the poor man that your insulting look around you is the rich who are always trying to boss you is that the rich who drag you into litigation is usually the rich who blaspheme the glorious name by which you are no men. The brief prayer Lord, please help us now as we look at these verses save us from straying into BiPAP meadow of conjecture and invention keepers on the narrow path of that which is clear and challenging and necessary for Jesus sake on then we looked essentially just the first verse of James chapter 2, my brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism and we spent the balance of our time looking at the description which James gives to us.
First of all of his readers, describing them as believers and then secondly, the description that he gives us of Jesus, who is this glorious Lord Jesus Christ or Jesus Christ of the glory and what he tells us in this is that our attitude and our actions in relationship to the practicalities that he is about to describe, are to be governed by the example and pattern of Jesus. If we want to know how people should be accepted when they come into the community of believers. Then we look at the way in which Jesus accepted other people. If we want to know how appraisals should take place of individual lives, then we need to stand back from the desires and designs that many others instinctively have. To make appraisals on the basis of that which is external and insignificant, and rather exercise discernment in the way in which Jesus did essentially he is providing for is a call in everything to be like Jesus in the old days of hymnody and there was a song that was around, I haven't heard it in 100 years that had the refrain. Well actually the opening lines were earthly pleasures vainly call me I would be like Jesus. Nothing worldly shall enthrall me.
I would be like Jesus is in the subjunctive. You will notice be like Jesus. This my song in the homeland in the throng be like Jesus all day long. I would be like Jesus. So the description that is given to us of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ stands at the very threshold of the instruction which he then provides and that instruction you will notice comes in just a phrase. Don't show favoritism is one of those statements that we find ourselves saying which part of this don't you understand it is impossible for us to miss it.
His instruction in many arises. Teachers might be prepared to learn from him.
His instruction is clear. It is concise. It is candid and it is quite frankly courageous, clear, concise, candid and courageous and the reasons why James is able to speak with this kind of succinct clarity is because he knows himself to be on absolutely solid ground. He knows that he is not introducing here some newfangled idea.
Some dynamic concept that he is dreamt up to offer to his readers of this letter, but in actual fact he is building on the platform that exists throughout the whole of Scripture and I don't want to be tedious in doing this and I'm not going to wait for you to turn up these passages, but I'll tell you where I am, in case you choose to check and see whether what I'm telling you is actually there or for whatever other reason but I want to just give to you for quotes from the Bible.
First of all, in Leviticus and in chapter 19 where an almost succession of laws and regulations which are firmly based on the 10 Commandments are the people of Israel are instructed as to how they should live in relationship to one another and so for example, in verse 11. Do not steal, do not lie. Do not deceive one another and then in verse 12, don't swear falsely by my name. Don't defraud your neighbor, or rob him. Don't hold back wages of a man who is been hired overnight. Don't curse the death or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, don't pervert justice. Verse 15 and then right in the middle of it all. Do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly. Deuteronomy and chapter 10 and verse 12 and a little part that follows from it.
Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways to love him to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and to observe the Lord's commands and decrees that I am giving you today and legitimately. The person may say well what will it look like if we obey God.
In this respect.
If we love him. If we fear him.
If we serve him with all of our hearts. If we observe all of his decrees and so long will Lugano verse 17 the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality who accepts no bribes what is God like he shows no partiality. What is he do verse 18. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and he loves the alien giving him food and clothing and you are to love those who are aliens for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt. Many of the people of God, both then and now are tempted to have a very exclusive notion of who my neighbor is that was the significance of the story of the good Samaritan who is my neighbor, the person asked Jesus.
You shall love your neighbor who is my neighbor. Then Jesus tells the story of the good Samaritan which turns everything upside down for the pointer were noticing simply that God shows no partiality in the New Testament in Luke chapter 20 and in verse 21 so the spies questioned him, teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not. And Jesus seeing through the duplicity said to them, show me a denarius who sported an inscription around it.
Caesar is the reply in any given that wonderful answer.
The reason were turning there is because they come to him as the teacher in the sea teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right and that you do not show partiality, and finally in one section of the acts in acts chapter 10 in that memorable scene where Peter is given an an illustration of God's interest in the nations of the house of Cornelius verse 34 then Peter began to speak. I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
You see, he knew that it was true that God is not show favoritism. He was Jewish.
He understood the Jewish law and you Leviticus he knew Deuteronomy. He understood all of the but nevertheless his approach to people was not what it needed to be because he was partial and he was concerned to display at justice and kindness but in a very exclusive framework and God had to wean him away from that.
Just in the same way that God has to wean many of as a way from our own perspective and relationship to the things that Jim confronts us with here so the description then is given of the readers as believers of the Lord Jesus is glorious and in the instruction which is clear and concise is backed up by the rest of the Bible. Don't show favoritism and then James is a wonderful teacher and does whatever he teacher ought to do and that is open a window of understanding on this concise statement. Let me. He says work this out for you in a way that is holy in an illustration that is down there. Let me give you something that you will all be able to understand.
Here are two strangers, it would appear to come into the gathering of God's people. Whatever the context might be if they weren't strangers in the presumably would they would know where to go and sit, but it isn't.
It is a difficult thing to go into place that you don't know. I certainly don't find it easy and it often isn't easy to going to church. It ought to be a lot easier than it is.
But many times it's not unless somebody is kind and gracious to others and reaches out and realizes that were fairly clueless and we don't know where we are aware were going or what to do and will be live just amble around until finally we drop into a seat make the mistake of sitting in the sun hallowed seat that is known only as Mrs. Jenkins seat and someone will, of course, that is Mrs. Jenkins yourself and ask for is to be removed to a more suitable seat for ourselves away suitable seat seat being any seat other than Mrs. Jenkins seat. Incidentally, I'm not sure that we have a Mrs. Jenkins in the church and if we do please let her know that I had no notion of it and just invented the name from nowhere. Other strangers come in. The strangers come in and one is given a good seat that came out quite clearly didn't it in the paraphrase by Phillips the good seat is granted to the man of substance he shown special attention is wearing fine clothes, and he wears a gold ring. In other words, he just hides the elements that identify unless somebody who has made it somebody who is well-off somebody who perhaps will be able to make a contribution, and if the people are thinking in those terms. Then, here they go.
Let's make sure that this individual gets a very nice seat. The other strangers. Of course, is a poor man and he's in shabby clothes and for him. There is no significant seat or tall. In fact, there may be no seat tall for the individual of meager means is the simple illustration to folks come into the gathering.
One looks like he's gotta few dollars in his pocket and immediately summary says let me try and give you a very nice place to sit and the other fellow is a bit of a mess and someone says artist trying find somewhere and if you don't find this he just sit on the floor know there's something that we need to know here and it's very important. The context of first century Judaism first century Greek and Roman culture knew virtually nothing of a middle class wasn't all like this gathering this evening. It wasn't America couldn't be.
Of course, but when we read this from the perspective of our culture of our society. It's hard for us to envisage exactly what was described here because the context was largely that of significant poverty with a few people who were exceptionally rich instead of there being sort of a great middle-class. It was much more like places in Mexico that I've been, or places in Africa that you may have visited other places in the world where without the benefits that we enjoy for advancement, and so on. Either just is a phenomenal disparity between the shabby and the chic and there is if you like no shabby chic. It takes a culture like this to develop shabby chic to make lousy looking clothes phenomenally expensive, so that significantly rich people can show how significantly rich they are by wearing these phenomenally shabby clothes that testify to the expense involved in making them shabby know we are quite a unique society. There is no question of that and therefore it's important for us to remember that this is an historic context.
This is a realistic situation that James is addressing. But in actual fact the application to our environment is not too difficult to make. You don't have to go too far back in the live in the culture of Anglicanism.
That is the Anglican church. What you refer to her we refer to as the Episcopal Church over here.
You don't have to go too far back in Anglicanism in the British Isles to find the situation where the wealthy in a parish paid an annual rent so as to secure a well placed seat in the church that seat or that pew often came with its own door and with its own key so as to prevent anybody from sitting in Mrs. Jenkins pew. After all, the rich who had secured their riches by whatever means where entitled, so it was thought to that kind of thing. Those who were not wealthy, those for whom finances were insufficient had to content themselves with finding a spot in the open seating invite the seating was identified in the parish churches as free seating is not very nice. That's exactly how it would be like a sailor over a long way from their far away from England and far away from that time you want run into anything like that over here in America or will you not, will you not where you been walking around with your eyes closed, there's anything we own the pew that we said, in every single Sunday. Some of you would like to have a door on the end of your pew invite the depth of your depravity is coming out in that as I described the situation or say no that's the kind of thing that we are to adopt your apartheid term. While we may not have seen that but I think most of us have seen the appointment of leadership in churches not on account of wisdom, but on account of wealth. You see money still does the talking. Far too loudly in Christian circles, money still talks and talks very loudly in Christian circles, and where it does, and when it dies, the glory of Christ will eventually depart. It will the description. The illustration and then he makes application of it verse five and I wanted long on this. Listen, he says my dear brothers listen and then he makes application of his illustration by means of three rhetorical questions question number one, he says, hasn't God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith, and of course the answer to that rhetorical question is so clearly yes note, we need to think this out because it would appear extremely likely that James here is taking a leaf again from the teaching style of Jesus, his brother we know from reading our Bibles that what James is saying here is generally true, it is not invariably true.
Therefore, he is employing a device I rhetorical device, a teaching device and a device that Jesus himself used as his brother because when he says, isn't it the case that God has chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith answer is yes and no.
It's just generally but not invariably, because he chose Abraham rich Joel rich Zacchaeus, rich Levi rich Sergius Paulus, the proconsul rich Joseph of Arimathea rich sleazy reason he's pressing and driving home appointment by taking one side of it and stating it in a way that makes it so welcome telling in its impact because as again we saw in in first Corinthians chapter 1 Paul is able to say, not many all of you were ranch. The vast majority of society was poor.
There were some who were rich. There was no middle-class. And so when a church assembly replicated society.
It was inevitable that the preponderance of the assembly would be poor and if you would be rich all heard the expression, money talks can be true even in Christian circles were learning how to mute its volume. This is Truth for Life with Alastair Bragg.
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What constitutes cruel wealth and what should our response to wealth will explore the answers to those questions tomorrow. The Bible teaching of Alastair Bragg is furnished by Truth for Life or the Learning is for Living