Bible Studies for Life
September 9 2018
James 2:1-10 (HCSB)
When Mahatma Gandhi was a student he read the gospels giving serious consideration to becoming a Christian. He thought the teachings of Jesus held the solution to the caste system that divided his people.
Gandhi attended a service at a nearby Christian church in hopes of talking with the minister about becoming a Christian. When he entered the sanctuary the usher refused to seat him and suggested he go worship with his own people. Gandhi left disappointed because he felt if Christianity had a caste system he might as well remain a Hindu. The usher’s prejudice gave him a poor impression of Christianity.
James prohibited the church from showing any kind of partiality or prejudice. He gave two illustrations. He described an individual who attended a service; the man was wearing gold and was dressed in fine clothes. He was offered a good seat in the assembly. A poor man with filthy clothes attended and he was told to stand to the side or sit on the floor. This was favoritism partiality and/or prejudice.
The word “favoritism” in the Greek New Testament literally means “lifting the face” (James 2:1). In our modern vernacular it would mean “taking something at face value” or “judging something based on appearances.” Showing favoritism is contradictory with a genuine faith in Jesus Christ. This behavior was also contradictory when James wrote his letter since it was the rich who were oppressing the early Christians (James 2:6).
This kind of treatment stands in direct contrast to God’s treatment of the poor described as “rich in faith” (James 2:5). It violates the “royal law of love” (Lev. 19:18). Such favoritism is condemned as sin (James 2:8-13).
We live in a culture that judges people based on externals like the kind of job you have car you drive house you live in and clothes you wear. James made it clear that although prejudice and favoritism may be common in the culture they have no place in the church.