Sunday School: “Impartial Love”

Sunday School with Pastor Theodis Acklin

Scriptural text: James 2

The Sin of Favoritism (James 2:1-4).  In the first part of this passage James describes a circumstance or event. He paints a picture, and then he tells us what’s wrong with this picture. In doing this, James exposes the sin of partiality or favoritism (criticism or rejection of someone based on any character- neutral trait). James tells us NOT TO DO THIS (“…do not…”). We are forbidden to hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ …with partiality. These things do not go together (claiming faith in Christ and partiality). Partiality is “respect of persons,” (KJV). We may use the word “favoritism” or “prejudice.” When we discriminate against people merely on the basis of some no-character trait, we are doing something (thinking or acting) that isn’t compatible with faith in Christ.

James paints this picture. Brethren have an assembly, and a man comes in with “gold rings, in fine apparel.” This is a man who appears to be wealthy. The other man comes in is “a poor man in filthy clothes.” In this picture, we are told nothing about the character of these men, nothing about their spiritual status or behavior. Are they Christians? We are not told. The rich man is given gracious hospitality, a warm welcome, a good place to sit. The poor man is told, “sit over here, out of the way!” James’ commentary on this picture is: “Have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2:4, NIV).

The Discrimination of God (James 2:5-7). “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?”  As to a matter of importance, and worthy of attention and regard; being an instance of the divine conduct towards the poor, and carries in it a strong argument against respect of persons. This interrogative is equal to a strong affirmative, and the sense is, that God has chosen the poor of this world; and which is to be misunderstood, not of the choice of them to an office, either in church or state; though sometimes this has been the case, as the instances of David, and the apostles of Christ, show; nor merely to the Gospel, and the outward means of grace, though the poor have the Gospel preached unto them; nor of the effectual calling, though this is true; but of eternal election, which is the act of God the Father, and passed before the foundation of the world, and is the source of all grace, and remains immutable and irrevocable. Instead of giving special honor to the poor, James asserted that his hearers had insulted them (verse 6). The act of shaming the poor was inseparable from the simultaneous act of honoring the rich. To act this way, the Christian assembly had to disregard the honor God has bestowed on the poor who love Him. In this way, the assembly had become false judges-because God’s standard for what should be truly honored had not been followed. You cannot say that you love God and then mistreat those who are loved by God.