“Discrimination Violates the Greatest Commandment”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of James 2.1-13 Part 3
James 2. There was a day when religious leaders tried to trap Jesus in his words. The Sadducees who don’t believe in a resurrection asked him a question about who a wife will be married to if 7 brothers had each been married to her at some time.
Jesus escapes the trap by teaching that in the resurrection there is no marriage. Jesus effectively silences the Sadducees. Then the Pharisees muster their confident. And they gather around in a huddle… And one of them comes forth, a lawyer. And he asked Jesus a question to test him, “teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
Jesus responds …
Matthew 22:37–40 …, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Loving your neighbor as yourself is at the heart of James 2:1-13.
James 2:1–13 1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. 2 For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 3 and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine 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,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? 5 Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? 7 Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called? 8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
James is concerned about discrimination in the church. Discrimination or favoritism is the unfair favoring of one person or group over another.
And James has given us three reasons why discrimination is evil. He told us that discrimination is evil because it contradicts God’s honor system. In other words, why would you dishonor the poor man if God has honored the poor man?
And discrimination fawns, or it sucks up to someone. And now thirdly in verses 8-13, discrimination violates the command to love your neighbor as yourself.
So I’m preaching this morning that discrimination violates the command to love your neighbor as yourself.
Notice James’ main point in verses 8-9 …
A. Main point: Discrimination is evil because it violates the love command (vv.8-9)
James 2:8–9 8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
EXP: If you love your neighbor as yourself, you do well. This, James says, is fulfilling the royal law. Loving your neighbor as yourself is the royal law. This is the law that rules over other laws. This is, Jesus says, the second part of the great commandment.
ARG: So you are to love your neighbor just like you love yourself. And let me tell you something that might be a surprise … you love yourself. This command …love your neighbor as yourself … assumes that you love yourself. How can you love others like yourself if you don’t already love yourself; and you do love yourself. The Bible also teaches it. Paul in Ephesians 5:29 for no one ever hated his own flesh … no one ever really hated himself.
How does Paul know that? Well, think about it. When you are hungry, you get something to eat. When you are thirsty you get something to drink. When you are tired, you find a bed or a church service.
You don’t hate yourself in these things. When you’re hungry you don’t think, “well I sure hope this gets worse!” And when you’re thirsty you don’t think, “I sure hope that I die of thirst.” No, you love yourself.
Now the easy part is loving yourself like that. But this command is to love others like you love yourself. If someone is hungry and you can help them, you give them something to eat. If they are thirsty, you give them something to drink. What if they are poor and they come into our church service?
Well, what if you were poor and you came into our church service? How would you want to be treated. You wouldn’t be thinking to yourself, “I sure hope somebody finds me a seat underneath his footstool. I just can’t wait for that!”
And when you come to church you’re probably not thinking, “I sure hope nobody appreciates me today. I sure hope nobody loves me or encourages me today…”
No, you want to be appreciated, loved, cared for in a matter apart from your race, social status, education, or nationality, or skill set. So you should love others like that too.
John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
TRANS: James says if you are doing this, you are doing well. Otherwise, verse 9, it’s sin, you’re a transgressor. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
To care especially for someone and not for someone else is sin, transgression.
ILL: You are to love your neighbor as yourself. You remember the lawyer who said, “and who is my neighbor?” And Jesus replies with the story of the good Samaritan. A man is beaten and robbed and left half dead.
And a priest sees him and passes by on the other side of the road. And the same with the Levite. But the Samaritan, who is despised in Jewish society, feels compassion on him and helps him. He bandages up his wounds he pours oil and wine in them is cleaning his wounds he puts them on his own donkey and he brings him to the hotel even pays for his extra expenses to stay at the hotel and for whatever it takes to get him well.
And now, Jesus asked the question, “which of the three proved to be a neighbor to this man?” And the lawyer answers correctly and Jesus says now you go and do the same.
It’s being a loving neighbor. It’s seeing a need and meeting the need. It’s not a matter of geography but rather one of opportunity. The question is not who is my neighbor, rather to whom can I be an neighbor today?
APP: Who is it who needs love shown to them? What will you do about it? Know the opportunity and meet the needs. Whoever walks into our services, they have needs, we meet those needs regardless of how they look.
However, if you don’t, you will be considered a lawbreaker. A transgressor. One who is a sinner. It’s not that you just won’t be polite if you treat a poor person or person of a different nationality with disrespect. It’s not that your not polite. You are breaking divine law.
TRANS: Really? I’m a lawbreaker for not showing love to somebody, like the poor man? Why? Because if you break one law you break the whole thing. The reason that you are a lawbreaker when you discriminate is because you are not loving your neighbor as yourself. If you break one law you are breaking the whole law. Verses 10-11…
B. Reason: You’re a lawbreaker: Breaking one law means you’re a law breaker (vv.10-11)
James 2:10–11 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. [show me an example James…. “sure” … ] 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.
EXP: You’re guilty of the whole law of God if you sin in one point. For example, adultery and murder. You might not commit adultery, but if you do commit murder, you’re a sinner, and you are a transgressor.
What’s his point? Point: if you discriminate and make the poor man sit under your footstool… this is not loving your neighbor. If you talk to that guy but you won’t talk to that guy …. that’s not loving your neighbor. You wouldn’t want that done to you if you were that poor man. And since you break the one royal law of loving your neighbor, the one law that governs many other laws … you’re a divine law breaker, a transgressor.
ARG: The law is a unity. Jesus said it was a unity … Matthew 5:18 18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Paul also … in…Galatians 3:10 10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.”
God’s divine law is unified; it’s made up of individual laws, but when you break one you break the whole thing.
ILL: It’s like a piece of glass or a woven cloth. If you take the woven cloth and you rip it on one side of it, you’ve ripped the whole cloth. If you take the piece of glass and you take a hammer to one side of it, you’ve broken the glass all the way through it.
And that’s the same way it is with the Law of God. If you sin one sin, you are guilty of all. Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law.
Failing to love your neighbor as yourself makes you guilty before God. Showing discrimination makes you guilty before God.
James links discrimination with murder and adultery. And it’s not the only time …
Jeremiah 7:6 6 ….do not oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow, [don’t discriminate…] and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin … murder is linked with discrimination…
Again in …
Jeremiah 22:3 3 ‘Thus says the Lord, “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place.
And also John says … in
1 John 3:15 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
So it’s not that you just weren’t kind or you were impolite…no you were angry or you were discriminating…you murdered him.
APP: So you might be doing well in a lot of ways. You may be witnessing, you may be giving money to the church, you may be loving your wife and kids and whoever else is like you… But when you simply failed to show love to other people who are made in God’s image, you sin. And your sin is on the level of murder…
TRANS: At this point we might be thinking, “Come on, James…take a load off, is it really that bad? You make it sound like I deserve capital punishment each time I simply fail to show love…” “Yes” says James … “really? I mean come on, I only just prefer this white guy or I prefer that rich girl or I prefer this guy from Canada or I prefer that girl who has more education…And yes, I give them preferential treatment sometimes… ok, often, but hey, I get a lot out of it and those other people would just be uncomfortable around me anyway.
Why is this such a big deal? This is why … because, in the end, your life will be judged by the law of God to determine if you really are the real deal.
C. Motivation: You will be judged by the law of liberty (vv.12-13)
A little motivation here …
James 2:12–13 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
First: First, let’s understand what James is not talking about. We know he is not talking about those who are born again and who possess eternal life as being judged for their sin.
How do we know that?
The Bible says very simply that whoever trusts in the son of God has eternal life. And to trust him means to not trust everything else. Trusting in him demands repentance. You can’t trust Christ and trust other things too.
And Christ is the payment for all our sin …
2 Corinthians 5:21 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
This is the glory of God in Christ! Don’t forget the gospel: Christ has died for your sin. It is powerful his death is real and God has accepted his sacrifice on your behalf. And Christ has been raised from the dead. And through this, we can be declared righteous in God’s sight. And it’s all a simple trust in him and it is simply asking him to save us from our sins.
And when you ask him and he causes you to be born again, Paul says … Romans 8:1 1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Jesus also says …
John 5:24 24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
Psalm 103:10–12 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
So we know that James is not saying that those who trust in Jesus will answer for their sins.
So what does he mean then that “we are to be judged by the law of liberty?”
EXP: The law of liberty is that law that gives liberty. God’s law, his word gives liberty. It gives freedom. We are to be judged by the word of God which gives freedom. And so what gives freedom in God’s word? Is it not the case today that the gospel of Christ and the new covenant of Christ gives freedom?
Yes. When we trust in Christ and God saves us, we are justified. We are freed from condemnation. And when we trust in Christ, Romans chapter 6 teaches us that we are free from the power of sin. So yes, this law of God gives us freedom from sin.
Ah, you say … “God’s law doesn’t sound so liberating to me…I find God’s commands burdensome…and I just want to go off and be myself.”
Be yourself? What does that even mean? Are you made in the image of God? Since you are made in God’s image … to be yourself means to give true expression to who you really are, one who is made in God’s image, not your own. And so therefore, to live underneath the authority of God’s law is the only thing truly liberating. Made in God’s image means I’m liberated living under God’s law.
To seek to rebel against God’s law is not liberating then, it is enslaving. True liberation is freedom to be who we are really supposed to be. And because we are made in God’s image, to obey God’s laws is true freedom.
And the power of Christ and his gospel frees us from the shackles of sin and condemnation. And the power of Christ and his gospel gives us liberty and freedom to obey God and to live out the true calling on our lives, which is the restoration of the image of God in us.
Now, your life be judged on that very law. Your life will be judged based on the freedom giving law of God.
Question: Have you truly been liberated by that law? Have you been set free from the power of sin? Your life should show this! How should it show it? By your speech and actions, James says. Speak and act verse 12 … knowing your life will be judged by that freedom giving law.
In other words, does your life show the fruit that you have been set free by the gospel?
Because in the end, you will be judged based on that law. Are you saved or are you not saved? If you are saved your life will show it. If you are not saved, your life will show that. And so you need to speak and act as one who will be judged based on that law.
TRANS: How can you know if you’ll pass the test? In other words, how can you know if you truly possess eternal life?
Verse 13 … “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. ”
What if you are one who shows no mercy? What if your life is characterized by discrimination? What if your life is like that priest or that Levite who saw the guy laying there half dead and you just pass by on the other side?
What if your life is “Hey, let’s give preferential treatment to the rich guy! and yeah, I know that I oppress the poor guy through that, but hey what do you do…” Okay, judgment will be merciless to you. Why? Because you are showing no mercy.
So if you show no mercy, you prove yourself to be someone who has not received mercy. And that’s because that if God has shown mercy to you, you will show mercy to others. That’s the nature of salvation. Jesus said …
ARG: Matthew 5:7 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Also member Jesus parable about that wicked slave who would not have mercy on his fellow slave. The story goes that a king wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. And one slave owed the king 15,000 years worth of wages. Jesus point is there’s no way he can pay it back.
So the king commanded this man along with his family to be sold so that the king could get payment. But the slave begged for patience and said, “have patience with me and I will repay everything.” And so the king felt compassion and forgave him the debt.
But now that same slave goes out finds one of his fellow slaves who owed him just 100 days wages … And this fellow slave pled the same way, “have patience with me and I will repay you.” But the slave was unwilling and threw him into prison until he should pay back what was owed.
And the fellow slaves see what happened and they are grieved and they come and report what happened to the king. In the king summoned him, this wicked slave, and says, “I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 ‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.
35 “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”
In other words, if you’re forgiven, you will forgive. If you’ve been showed mercy, you will be merciful. True saving faith performs good works.
APP: Do you show mercy? Do you forgive? Do you love?
If you don’t then it shows that you are not truly born again and you will experience a merciless judgment in eternal hell, where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.
But if God has forgiven you, you will be forgiving. If you are merciful and forgiving and practice love to all and this is your mindset, you have nothing to be concerned about.
End of verse 13 … Mercy triumphs over judgment. Triumph here can be understood as to boast against … Someone who has been shown mercy, shows mercy, and his judgment is one of mercy. He receives mercy. And mercy will triumph in judgment. One who trusts in Jesus is one who is merciful and so he can even look forward to judgment, knowing he’ll receive mercy.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of James 2.1-13 Part 3
How are you doing with this? Are you showing favoritism in your home?
Jacob’s mother Rebekah showed favoritism by preferring Jacob over Esau Gen. 27:6-17
Jacob in turn showed favoritism by preferring his Joseph over his other sons …Genesis 37:3-4
Joseph also showed favoritism by preferring Benjamin over the rest of his brothers when he gave Benjamin 5 times the portions of his other brothers. Gen. 43:34
One time sin is something, but if a lack of mercy and life full of discrimination characterizes you, the Scripture is clear, you’re not a disciple of Jesus.
You’ve looked at your life, your family’s life, and now our church. What if a homosexual couple walked into one of our services? What would you do? Would you do anything different? What about a heterosexual couple living together?
We could be excellent in evangelism, making disciples, but if we fail to actively care for each other regardless of our differences, what kind of disciples would we be making? Pursue love.
Christ left his glory above, to come to earth to die for such a worm as I. Shall I not too look out for the interests of others? If anyone had a right to discriminate it was Christ. Perfect, all the glory, and yet He came to earth humbly, born to poor parents, and to live a life of poverty. Yet He didn’t come to condemn the world, but to save it.
He saw the nakedness of each soul, no matter their outer covering. By God’s grace, let’s do the same and love like Christ did.
143 old rugged cross….Christ left his glory above stanza 2.