James 2:5-7 – The Sin of Partiality Explained

Review from last week:

If we show partiality, we commit sin. 

Today’s message: James 2:5-7

  1. James reminds the brethren of the Sovereign act of God in eternity past— “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?” (2:5). Read Ephesians 1:4-11, 1 Thess. 2:13, 2 Tim.1:9 with 1 Tim 2:4; 2 Pet.3:9, and John 3:16. Those in Christ have been chosen before the foundation of the world; yet salvation is offered to all. 
  2. James’ point is not that only the poor are saved or that the rich are condemned. His point is that a believer should not dishonor the poor man. Recall the account of the rich young ruler’s encounter with Christ. Jesus said that it is difficult (not impossible) for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. The difficulty for the rich man is the temptation to  trust in his wealth; yet, the difficulty can be overcome. Recall the faith of Abraham, Job, and David, all who were wealthy materially but their trust was in Him from whom all things flow! There is no difference in the way a poor or a rich man must go in order to be saved. The way is Christ! 
  3. James emphasizes the degree to which they are blinded by wealth when they favor the rich over the poor. James opens their eyes to what the rich typically do: “Are not the rich ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?” (James 2:6-7). James is not making the point that all rich people are guilty of oppressing others or of speaking evil of Christ. He is simply using situations that typically occur with respect to the tendency of the wealthy to not follow Christ. James, therefore, is able to emphasize the unreasonableness of favoring the wealthy over the poor. There is a call to see beyond the external and avoid giving preference to one over another on the basis of what one has or does not have. 

Closing: God offers salvation to “whosoever believes in Christ;” and, God reveals that those who have received salvation have been chosen according to the riches of His grace. To the first, an invitation is given; to the latter, the reality of eternal security, according to the Sovereignty of God. May we each experience His grace to live a life that is pleasing unto Him.

Listen to the sermon here.

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