May 6, 2021

Are We Judges Who Can’t Be Trusted? ...The Book of James Bible Series


I really had intentions of writing other posts this year... (in addition to this Series, that is!) However, so far anyway... I'm only managing to sit in this chair to write about every two weeks!  Today, we're back for another installment in our Book of James Bible Series and we are kicking off Chapter Two!

We jump in to Chapter Two today beginning with JAMES 2:1-4! 

As usual, let's begin with The Passion Translation Bible:

"My dear brothers and sisters, fellow believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ—how could we say that we have faith in him and yet we favor one group of people above another? Suppose an influential man comes into your worship meeting wearing gold rings and expensive clothing, and also a homeless man in shabby clothes comes in. If you show special attention to the rich man in expensive clothes and say, “Here’s a seat of honor for you right up front!” but you turn and say to the poor beggar dressed in rags, “You can stand over here,” or “Sit over there on the floor in the back,” then you’ve demonstrated gross prejudice among yourselves and used evil standards of judgment!" (The Passion Translation)

I know!? You can't really say I didn't warn you ahead of time! James calls it like he sees it --or maybe, more like how HE sees it! Jesus and James, man... they're not gonna let us slide, guys! They are FOR us and they want the best for us... they want the best to flow to us and through us and -oh my goodness- how favoritism just gets in the way! 

And here's the deal: We are all guilty of it.  We all do it. 

You may be shaking your head and disagreeing with me passionately because -- ugh.... rich people!  You see... one way or another... one 'class' or --dare I even say it?-- race or gender or belief... ends up being treated as better or favored or more important than another with us humans! 

And here's the other deal: We all know it's wrong! 
Thankfully, we can also know that even though WE may do it... 
HE never does!

Like ---ever.

Are Y'all watching The Chosen? (Oh, how I hope you are!!!)  I keep thinking back to the scenes with the Sons of Thunder and to all the feelings the disciples had about the Samaritans or the Pharisees or --well, you get the idea! --anyone who was different than (which they thought of as 'less than'!)

 And yet --Jesus sees beyond the outward things, deep into the heart of - not a people group or a class or a race or religion, but to each heart, individually and personally. And I know we are not Him --but honestly... He is our example and our goal! We are supposed to live and love like He did --or at least purpose and try to, right?

The Footnotes for verse 1 say that in the Aramaic, this verse could be translated as “Don’t be taken in by the face mask of people, but hold to the faith in the glory of our Lord Jesus the Messiah.” 

Imma just leave this here.

Honestly, we can think we are doing great at acting (or masking) our prejudices and preferences but it's only a matter of time before it's obvious to others how we really feel or what we really think. 

Lord help us --let it not be obvious to us LAST of all! Open the eyes of our hearts to be able to see our OWN shortcomings and misgivings rather than ignoring them or pointing out everyone ELSE'S!


Next, let's read our verses in the New American Standard Bible:

"My brothers and sisters, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and is dressed in bright clothes, and a poor man in dirty clothes also comes in, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the bright clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?" (NASB)

I'm not sure why, but reading it in this version that just states it so plainly makes me cringe a little. It reminds me of the church we attended as baby Believers. There was a stage and on the stage were a couple of rows of chairs. THAT is where the Pastoral staff and wives and guest speakers sat. I am (almost) sure it started out as a way to honor them... but it makes me kind of queasy now.  It seems our culture --even in the Church-- is so celebrity-focused, we will put someone up on a pedestal faster than a blink of the eye. But it's even more dangerous in the Body because we will call it honor or mentoring to clean it up and make it sound better. But James called it 'personal favoritism' and called us 'judges with evil motives' when we do it!  

Ouch, yet again, brother James!
Come on! Why you gotta do us like that?

Again... I won't press this issue or try to make you feel guilty but I also don't want us to skim over this verse or pretend this is not happening all around us AND within us! Like I said, it may not be rich vs. poor (--although, it's probably still that, too!) but it may be white vs. black, or Democrat vs. Republican, etc.  

I know, you guys... I do!
  But don't get mad at me!
    Take it up with James (and Jesus!)


In The Voice, the Scripture reads like this:

"My brothers and sisters, I know you’ve heard this before, but stop playing favorites! Do not try to blend the genuine faith of our glorious Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, with your silly pretentiousness. If an affluent gentleman enters your gathering wearing the finest clothes and priceless jewelry, don’t trip over each other trying to welcome him. And if a penniless bum crawls in with his shabby clothes and a stench fills the room, don’t look away or pretend you didn’t notice—offer him a seat up front, next to you. If you tell the wealthy man, “Come sit by me; there’s plenty of room,” but tell the vagrant, “Oh, these seats are saved. Go over there,” then you’ll be judging God’s children out of evil motives." (The Voice)

Silly Pretentiousness! This pretty much nails it, doesn't it? We all can get an exaggerated sense of our own (or someone elses') importance from time to time. There's really no use denying it.  Instead, let's agree to be open to the correction of the Holy Spirit and to be quick to repent and change our ways... change our minds... change our approach.

Listen, sometimes (read: all the time... it should be all the time!) I'll take the stench of the homeless over the scent of pride and arrogance.  The problem is sometimes we get smell-blind to our own aroma! 

Whether we mean to or not, we draw lines in the sand and create an 'us' and a 'them' and then we take it even further and we divide 'them' into subgroups and --well... we really do 'segregate God's children and prove that we are judges who can't be trusted' -as Eugene Peterson says!


"My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith. If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, “Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!” and either ignore the street person or say, “Better sit here in the back row,” haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted?" (The Message Bible)

Oh my... did you know one of the best gifts we can give each other is to acknowledge that we are seen... that we matter!  No one likes feeling invisible and unimportant. But so often we do this... to homeless on the street or in our churches, to strangers we don't know, to people we assume would not like us... we judge the outside of the person and forget that we are supposed to see through all of that to the heart of the person, or the issue! We are supposed to see through the eyes of Jesus and when we remember to do that --we see how Loved and Valuable every single person truly is!

Jesus loves...

He manages to not show any partiality and yet He makes you feel like you are the love of His life -and you are. 

And so are 'they'! --whether they are rich or poor, black or white, saved or unsaved... 

Something about 'For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son...' 

Something about 'WHOSOEVER believeth in Him...'

Thank God, we all can be WHOSOEVER --no matter our financial, social, or cultural status!


Let's pray: 

Father God, 

We are so very grateful for Your lovingkindness and Your patience with us! We thank You that You are our example of how to love... of how not to judge each other based on surface things... of how to not let public opinion influence how we treat others! You do not show partiality or make anyone feel less than or unimportant... help us to be more like You, Lord! When our flesh rises up and the temptation to favor one person over another --no matter the reason, help us to remember this verse and lead us in going above and beyond in NOT segregating the Body of Christ! 

Holy Spirit, empower and enable us to be led by You... taught by You... and filled by You!
Show us how to love and how to be believers who CAN be trusted... who can love and stand for Truth yet not be unfair or biased, opinionated or spiteful. But instead be fair and balanced, speaking the Truth in Love and judging our brothers and sisters (-- not the world.) with righteousness and grace, hand in hand! Help us to be a forgiving, gracious representation of who You are and how You love! 

In Jesus' Name!


We'll be back again in a couple of weeks to dive into the next few verses of Chapter 2 together!

Until then, let's remember to:

Lastly, we will be linking each post in this series over on the Series Landing Page. This way if you are coming in late to the game, or simply missed a post for some reason, you can still play catch up by clicking HERE
You can also fill in the Subscribe Here bar at the top and you will be subscribed to a weekly email that will send each post to you there, as well as a monthly newsletter that comes out around the first of each month!

Is there a translation or version of the Bible that I am not using that you'd like to see here? What has blessed you or challenged you so far in digging in to the book of James here? I'd love to know!

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