Saturday, June 10, 2006

Respect of persons

James 2:1-9 - "My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors."

Respect of persons is incompatible with the faith (v. 1ff.). "...have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ...with respect of persons" -- the two are incompatible. Worldly partially does not fit God's spiritual people (or at least should not!). We should judge "righteous judgment" (John 7:24). God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). Jesus did not "regard the person of men" (Matthew 22:16).

Respect of persons is inconsistent with the facts of the Christian situation (vv. 5-7). Their own Christian brothers and sisters were more likely to be "the poor of this world", while the rich were oppressing Christians and blaspheming Jesus. Is not this still true today? Cf. I Corinthians 1:26-28.

Respect of persons is a transgression of God's law (vv. 8.9). Respect to person is sin. But if we fulfill the royal law of Christ -- love thy neighbor as thyself -- we will not have respect to persons and will treat all preferentially equally above ourselves (Philippians 2:3).

Philippians 2:5-8 - "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

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