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Father playing with child Fixing Favoritism, James 2:1-13

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We are probably all guilty of favoritism once in a while. We may favor one child or grandchild above another. We may take one out to Dairy Queen or to do a special activity but not another. We may go on and on speaking positively about one child while ignoring others. We may sit and talk with one, listening with rapture in our hearts to him or her, but not another. The problem with favoritism is that it engenders bitterness with the rest of the children who do not get the same level of attention. Whether child or adult, we experience favoritism in our homes, our friends, our schools, our work places, and even in our churches. In today's lesson James addresses a problem with favoritism in the early church. What do we do about favoritism? How can we fix it?

[Read James 2:1-4]. What were some examples of favoritism in the early churches?

Answer 1


Do we do that today in our churches?

First, let us consider how most of us might react if we knew a millionaire were going to visit our church this Sunday. How would we react? Would we roll out the red carpet welcoming committee? Would we offer him a café latté'? Would we escort him to a special place in our sanctuary? Would the pastor welcome him by name from the pulpit? Would pastoral leaders and deacons offer to take him out to a fancy restaurant after church? We may do all these things. Why? Do we hope the millionaire will be pleased to stay with us and help us fund the ministry of the church? Does having a successful and influential financier in our congregation somehow validate the success of our ministry?

Next, let us consider how most of us might react if a poor person entered our church. Perhaps this person was dressed in ragged and wrinkled clothing. Perhaps this person even reeked of body odor, cigarettes or alcohol, and had not brushed his teeth. Would we roll out the red carpet for him? Probably not. Most of us might not even shake his hand and welcome him. We may not escort him to a good seat in our Sanctuary but may put him in the very last row, alone. You see most of us are not very different from the people in the early churches.

How does James appeal to our reason when we act with favoritism towards those who are rich? [read vs. 5-7].

Answer 2


What is the problem of favoritism? [Read vs. 8-11]. What is the royal law? [see Mark 12:28-33]

Answer 3


How are we to judge by the law that gives freedom? What is this law? (remember our last study - James 1:25) This is the key to help us fix favoritism [read vs. 12-13 and John 1:17]

Answer 4


Lessons to Live by: (ask for members' input first)


Today's Bible memory verse:

James 2:1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. (NIV)

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A1: There was favoritism toward the rich, and unfair treatment of the poor.

A2: James points out that God usually chooses the poor and needy to inherit salvation. Some of the poor know how needy they are, get saved and are then great humble servants of Christ. Their riches are found in Christ, who gives them forgiveness, peace, and new spiritual life. Many rich do not get saved (not all; James is generalizing). They are used to being served and may not think they need anything. They may throw their influential weight around. If they do not like what they hear or how we operate as a church, they may pull their resources from the church (sometimes after the church has padded her programs or started a building project). They may even sue us, slander our church and its godly stance, and even God himself. In the end, that person may cause us more trouble than good.

A3: Favoritism is a sin because we are not loving our neighbor as ourselves, and [implied] we are inconsistent in our love. The royal law is love your neighbor as yourself. When we sin against this law it is the same as it would be if we sinned against one of God's Ten Commandments against mankind. Would we want to be treated the same way as we might treat others, with a lack of courtesy or respect or love?

A4: We need to “speak and act right as those who are going to be judged by the law of freedom.” The law of freedom is a reference back to James 1:25 and seems to correlate with “the law of grace and truth” (John.1:17), which believers receive through Jesus Christ. In other words we should speak and act as those who are genuine believers in Christ. How should a believer in Christ act? He should love others consistently, whether they are rich or poor, or have any other favorable or unfavorable distinction. He (and we) should love all people, especially those who seek God, with mercy and grace. We Christians will be judged for how we act. God is a God of mercy and grace and we, too, should so act. Mercy triumphs over judgment, so let us not judge each other with distinctions.

Lessons to Live by:

•  Receive people equally

•  Speak and act consistently with Christian love.

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