By Ross Freeman
“Kind words are short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within the reach of every hand. If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” Mother Teresa
“My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you do well;” (James 2:1-8 NKJ)
People may argue that favoring the rich and famous is only human, but the bible rejects partiality. God is not a respecter of persons or favors one person over another, so we as His children must be the same.
It is very clear in this passage that James is exhorting us not to show distinctions or acceptance between people based on rank, influence or position, showing preference toward the rich and powerful at the expense of everyone else.
Our impartial God shows to all people the same love, grace, blessings and benefits which excludes favoritism based on wealth or class. All people are equal in God’s eyes, there are no favorites.
When people attend our place of worship, whether they are beggar or pauper, rich or famous, wearing old shabby clothing or the finest attire, they must be embraced and welcomed just as Jesus welcomed everyone.
We should bring everyone into the heart of the meeting, not relegating the so called “Undesirable” to an inferior position at the rear of the building where they are often, in many instances, out of sight, out of mind, ignored and sadly, in many cases, never to be seen in church again. (I have been guilty of this many years ago and God dealt with me over it, hallelujah.)
In doing these things, we do one of the things that God’s word strongly tells us not to do and that is judgment. In this case, it is to judge others, passing sentence or condemning people for being inferior, not fitting into our so called social circle; ‘Oh’ so Pharisaic.
Verse four calls this form of judgment: evil thoughts, diseased and vicious thinking leading to a malicious and grievous attitude. This must be changed through heartfelt repentance before God. This of course, is not practiced by all church members, and in fact, only a minority of people does this in many churches. The Undesirables need our love, compassion, support and forgiveness as we walk alongside them in friendship and encouragement, leading them to that repentance and restoration.
The rich man, regardless of his wealth, abundance and possessions must be embraced just as sincerely and in the same manner as we would embrace a poor person. After all, many who have an abundance of wealth are poor and derelict in so many areas of their lives and are crying out as much as the beggar. God does not turn either of these people away, nor should we!
Just a point here: in nearly all cases it is not the wealthy man who is at fault, but the small-mindedness of the few who are distracted by their wealth. They want to be seen with them and manipulate them and make themselves feel more important. We should not allow the rich to attract us by their wealth, thereby sidetracking us from the poor. But by faith, in truth, assurance and conviction, reach out and embrace rich and poor alike, bringing them into God’s Kingdom.
In verse six James is not speaking exclusively about all rich people. He is describing certain rich unbelievers who were exploiting, despising and shamefully mistreating the poor and blaspheming Jesus, defaming and speaking evil of our noble Savior.
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second like it, is this you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 NKJ)
When we fulfill the sovereign pre-eminent law (gospel) of God, we do well. As verse eight puts it so powerfully and beautifully, which are the words that we all want to hear when we finally meet Him face to face, “Well done good and faithful servant.”