Sermon Reflections from Favoritism Forbidden | Alex Hardt | July 9, 2023
James 2 is a very practical chapter for the church and how it is to operate. It also speaks to each believer about their own personal walk and commitment to Christ and His kingdom. Damon began with some personal examples of where he has seen favoritism in the form of snobbery within the church that caused him to reevaluate and question his own thoughts and actions. It was a good reminder how one action builds upon another and events can spiral away if we are not diligent. God calls us to look carefully at our actions and listen to our own words. Are they words and deeds that will bring Him glory? Are they edifying to Him and others? James calls favoritism sin, 2:8-9 “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” Where are you allowing Satan to lead you to sin? Is it your arrogance- thinking you are better than other believers, more devoted, more generous? Or is it your pride –thinking your way of doing things is better or you always get the right outcome? Satan is the great deceiver and we must always be aware and on guard. We need to constantly reassess and see if we are showing others Christ in and through our actions. John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Damon challenged us to align ourselves with scripture and focus on how we are acting and reacting with others. We are to constantly ask, are others seeing the love of Christ through me?
James 2 is not all about how we act impartially towards all believers and unbelievers so they will see Christ but he also speaks about how our faith should be reflected in our deeds. Deeds for unbelievers stand alone as good or bad but deeds for the believer are to be a reflection of Christ within us. We cannot count on good deeds to gain us credibility with the world and His kingdom. They must be accompanied or motivated by our faith in Christ. The world’s opinion of our ‘good’ deeds should not matter to the believer. The only opinion that matters is God’s. He wants to know why you did what you did. God wants actions of the heart. Our heart for Him is to be our motivation. We do what we do because of our love for Him! When someone looks at our deeds they need to see both the good deed and the faith that motivated it. However, since people do not always perceive things correctly we should be relieved that God sees, God knows and God sees and knows what is in our hearts. He knows our true motivations. His opinion is the only one that matters!
When I was working on memorizing James, I gave considerable thought to James 2:13-14. I struggled to make sense over “mercy triumphs over judgement”. Here are these verses in the New Living Translation and then in the Message. As you read and study James 2 this week, I pray they will be helpful. The New Living Translation “So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. 13 There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.” The Message 12-13 Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.
Let the lessons of James 2 speak to your heart this week. Will you be more open and less judgmental? Will your love and good deeds be a reflection of your faith? Will you seek to treat others with godly mercy knowing you are going to be totally provided for by God’s grace?
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