“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favouritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here is a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”
I continue to be amazed at the use of words that I find in this letter of James. As he develops his argument in a logical way James keeps reminding us of the central concepts which he has already established in our minds. One of these concepts is that of real Biblical faith which leads us through the trials of the lives that we are living. Each of us is tried and tested by the circumstances which we face in life. God uses these experiences to mature us in Christ. As we face the reality of our lives we are invited to ask God for wisdom, which James tells us God will give to us without wavering. He will be committed to His purposes for us, and will give us all that we need. We must ask without doubting. The word that James uses here in James 1:5-6 is the same word which he also uses in chapter 2:4. It is there translated as discriminated. The basic meaning of the word is to doubt or to make a distinction. Mussner defines the word this way, “an inner conflict between trust and distrust of God.” The reason why we make sinful distinctions regarding other people is owing to the fact that we are distrustful of God’s plan and purpose for our lives.
James is heading here towards an exposition and application of the Royal Law, “Thou shall love your neighbour as yourself.” The true believer in Christ is one in whom the fruit of such sacrificial love is being produced. To bring us into the type of repentance that produces such fruit James must first bring us to the point where we are broken from our worldly approach to life. So James confronts us with a Biblical parable much like that used by the Prophet Nathan with King David in 2 Samuel 12:1-7.
“The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”
James follows the same Biblical principle as he illustrates one of the ways that we make distinctions among ourselves, all because we do not believe that God knows what He is talking about when He calls to “Love our neighbours as ourselves.” Over the next few weeks I want to explore what this means for us who are seeking to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in this 21st century.