July 16, 2020by Reverend Dan on July 16, 2020
“My brothers and sisters do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
Judging someone at face value can be dangerous. A superficial evaluation of a person’s worth based on nothing but what appears on the outside can be misleading. In this scripture James is telling us that favoritism – racism, prejudice, bias - is absolutely incompatible with being a Christian.
And as a side note remember who is saying this: Jesus’ brother. Can you imagine how hard it must have been for him growing up? With an older brother who was perfect? “Why can’t you be like your older brother?”, takes on a whole new meaning with James and Jesus.
But when he finally realized who Jesus was, how easy would it have been for him to put himself above others simply because of who he was related to? “You know, Jesus was MY brother . . .” But he didn’t. And in this story, he tells us not to either.
A rich man pulls up outside the church and both he and the camel he rode in on are blinged up. (Very few people could afford a gold ring in those times. The most ostentatious people in the ancient world would wear rings on their thumbs and every finger. Sometimes up to six rings on a finger!) In addition to the jewelry, his clothes are dazzling too. The literal translation for the Greek word translated to “fine apparel” here means “shining like a lamp.”
So, as a church member, what do you do? You welcome him. You love him. You tell him that Jesus came to die for his sins. You treat him the very best you can, so that he knows God loves him. Remember the outside doesn’t matter. However successful he looks, however prosperous in this life, he needs the Lord to live in his heart and change him from the inside out just like anyone else.
In the synagogues of the time, there’d be very few seats or benches to sit on. Most people sat cross-legged on the floor. But if you were so dazzled by him you gave him the best seat (the one where the offering plate passes first). And that’s fine – you want him to feel welcome. While you’re doing that, however, you don’t even notice a beggar who comes in wearing the only robe he owns. It’s old and filthy because he lives and sleeps in it.
Now you did nothing wrong giving the first guy a good seat . . . as long as you do the same for the poor man. If you don’t, if you simply judge by appearances, you are acting in a prejudiced way. Judging that the rich are better than the poor and therefore deserve better, even in God’s house.
Christian rapper and recording artist Lecrae shared the story of how he was visiting Beverly Hills one day and he needed to get a simple cotton t-shirt. So, he went into one of the regular department stores and he looked at the price tag on one of the t-shirts and he thought, “Oh, they must have put the wrong tag on this one.” So, he went and grabbed another shirt, same price—$640. For a t-shirt! He went to the owner and said, “All right, you’ve got to explain to me why this t-shirt is $640 dollars. I mean is some type of healing going to take place when I put on this shirt? Help me to understand why this shirt is $640.” And the owner said, “Oh, it’s all about the designer. The designer’s name is there on the shirt. That’s what gives it it’s value. It’s valuable because of who designed it.”
Think about that. The value of the shirt wasn’t determined by what color it was, what country it came from, what size it was. Its value was determined only by who designed it and created it.
Our value – our worth – and the value and worth of every single individual in the world isn’t based on what color our skin is or how much money we have or what kind of house we live in. Our value is based solely on who designed us. God has stamped His label of love and grace on each of our lives. Therefore, every person in this world is equally priceless regardless of gender, skin color, educational background, financial status, occupation, physical appearance, age or anything else.
God has labeled us all priceless using the blood of Calvary. It’s time to start treating each other the same.
“Father, Open our eyes and our hearts. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.”