James 2:1 – The Sin of Partiality

Review: During his ministry, Jesus had rebuked the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. They were religious but unrighteous. This inconsistency is what we are warned against in James 1:26-27. If we are followers of Christ, our walk should be consistent with our talk. Our lives should reflect the truth we have been taught and are called to faithfully proclaim. 

  1. A look at each phrase in James 2:1:
    1. “Do not hold” — ie., do not make it a habit or a way of living;
    2. “the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ”— ie, the body of truth, the Gospel message which is salvation through Christ alone;
    3. “who is glorious”— or “the Lord of glory,” an expression of the fact that Christ is the radiance of God the Father’s glory, the exact representation of his nature (See Heb. 1:3. Also, this points to Christ’s exalted position, being on the right hand of God. See Heb. 2:9);
    4. “with an attitude of personal favoritism—It is clear in verse 1 that James addresses “believers,” a witness to the fact that we as followers of Christ are not exempt from falling to sin: particularly, the sin of partiality or personal favoritism. The example given as to this sin of partiality is when we show respect to the rich over the poor, or when we elevate one individual over another because of his wealth, status, background, or other improper basis. See Eph. 6:9, which describes our God as not being partial. See 1 Sam. 16:7, how that “God does not look on the outward appearance but looks at the heart.” Note: In choosing the nation of Israel, God’s basis was explicit. Israel was not chosen on the basis of its “external” worth but on the basis of God’s covenantal love— grace! See Deut. 7:7-8.
  1. A look at our own standing before God—Having experienced the impartiality of God through His grace, it does not make sense for a believer to live out a life that is  partial to others. How can we not be gracious, having received grace? How can we not be merciful, having received mercy? How can we not forgive others when we, ourselves, have been forgiven? Read Luke 7:37-50! (Note: It has been recorded that Mahatma Gandhi considered converting to Christianity, having read the teachings of Jesus. However, when he entered a Christian sanctuary, he was refused a seat. Ghandi left, saying, “if Christianity also has a caste system, I might as well stay a Hindu.”)

Prayer: May we live a life that sees the true worth of each individual, made in God’s image. Although each individual is fallen in Adam, each is able to be restored through Christ Jesus who died, was buried, and who rose again! “My brethren, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory” (James 2:1).

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