Summary: Loving and accepting all is a good way to demonstrate love to people.

How to Treat People Right

May 20, 2007

Immanuel So. Baptist Church, Wagoner, OK

Rick Boyne

Message Point: Loving and accepting all is a good way to demonstrate love to people.

Read: James 2:1-13

Define “Favoritism”. v. 1 "My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism."

Explore areas of discrimination: Appearance, Ancestry, Age, Achievement, Affluence. Give examples.

Elaborate on Affluence: “Tell” story of misguided usher.

Explain: There are three problems with favoritism:

1. Favoritism is un-Christian. If you want to be like Jesus you can't play favorites. Faith and favoritism are incompatible -- we're a family. This word "favoritism" is used only four times in the Bible. Every other time it's referring to God and it says, “God does not play favorites.” Romans 2:11 "God does not show favoritism" Jesus treated everybody with dignity. God loves everybody. If there is one place in the world where there shouldn't be any kind of discrimination it ought to be the church. There is discrimination everywhere else in the world. But there ought to be one place no matter who you are or what your background is that you're welcome.

2. Favoritism is unreasonable. In v. 5-7 he says it's illogical, it doesn't make sense. “In the first place,” he says, “God has chosen the poor.” "Has not God chosen the poor to be rich in faith and inherit the kingdom?" He's not saying that it's good to be poor and bad to be rich. He's not saying that only the poor will be saved. Everybody in this room is rich compared to the majority of the world. It doesn't make any difference to God. Aren't you glad God doesn't check your wallet before He saves you? Aren't you glad your salvation isn't based on your savings account? James says, “Don't show favoritism. It's unchristian, and unreasonable. It's illogical, it doesn't make sense.”

3. Favoritism is unloving. (Unconditional love vs. favoritism)

That's why you shouldn't do it. "If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, `Love your neighbor as yourself.' you're doing right." Why is it called the royal law? Because if we obeyed that one we wouldn't need all of the rest. "Love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:14 "All the law is summed up in one sentence, `Love your neighbor as yourself'." If I play favorites I'm being unloving.

The Bible says that how we relate to other people shows how much we really love God. I John 4:20 "If a man says he loves God and hates his brother he's lying. How can you love God whom you haven't seen if you don't love your brother whom you have seen?" How I relate to you proves how much I love God. Favoritism is unloving.

We don't know how to love unconditionally. All we know is how to show favoritism.

v. 9-10 "If you show favoritism you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." How many laws do you have to break to be a lawbreaker? One. How many crimes do you have to commit to become a criminal? One. How many links do you have to break to break a chain? One.

James is saying that people think favoritism is such a small sin. But, he says, if you break God's rule, you break God's rule. Be careful it's serious business.

v. 11 "For who said, `Do not commit adultery' also said `Do not murder'. If you don't commit adultery but you do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker." What is he saying? He's illustrating his point about being unloving. If I come to your house and say, "I really respect you a whole lot. The way I'm going to prove how much I love you is I'm not going to commit adultery with your wife. However, if you tick me off I reserve the right to murder you." Are you going to thank me for that? Will you appreciate my love? How absurd! It's ridiculous!

v. 12 "Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom because judgment without mercy will not be shown to anyone who has been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment." Love treats people with mercy. Love gives people what they need, not what they deserve. James is probably thinking about his half-brother Jesus who said in the Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy."

That's the problem. It's unchristian, it's unreasonable, it's unloving to show favoritism -- to be a snob. How do you treat people?

The Prescription:

1. Accept Everybody. (Acceptance vs. Approval) Romans 15:7 “Accept one another just as Christ accepted you.” The church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints where they dress up for dress parade. Accept everybody.

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