Friday, March 2, 2012

The Sin of Partiality

Love Your Neighbour

As you live in Christ, the Lord of glory, be like Him.

  • He ate with sinners.
  • He lived in a humble village.
  • He ministered in lowly, contemptible areas.
It's easy in our day to be slightly envious of the rich and famous.  If you have a television, it's almost impossible to escape the latest round of the Mutual Admiration Society, as actors pat each other on the back and vy for the Golden Globe, the Oscar, or the People's Choice Award.  

Yet God tells us not to idolize the rich and famous, nor to be envious of the high and mighty.

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? James 2:5
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.James 2:8-9

The royal law is to love your neighbour.  The law of God requires that we first love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, then we must love our neighbour as ourselves.  Showing partiality by respecting a rich or powerful person more than a barista at the local coffee shop is breaking the law. 

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it James 2:10
All sins are not equally damaging or heinous.  Obviously murder has more of an effect than cheating someone out of money.  Yet all sin shatters unity and makes men into transgressors.  Only one transgression makes fulfilling the basic command to love God and your neighbour impossible to keep.  One sin makes you a lawbreaker.

Law of Liberty

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. ~James 2:10-13 

As the Holy Spirit applies the principles of Scripture to believers' hearts, they are freed from sin's bondage and enabled to obey God.  They are set free from the need to sin, to retaliate, to judge and shun and hate and ostracize. 

The merciful evidence that they are FORGIVEN, REDEEMED PEOPLE.  They are ready for the day of judgment.

So, what does this look like in real life?  

It looks like love.  

It looks like kindness to sinners, to lawbreakers, to the unlovely.

It looks like compassion to the drug addict.

It looks like praying for the homosexual or the child abuser.

Forgiven, Redeemed People know that "there, but for the grace of God, go I."  They do not sit in judgment, for they know that they could have been the ones transgressing the law in that manner, committing that heinous crime, stoning that Stephen, denying that Christ.

God wants to do a work “to the praise of his glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:6). God wants to show us his grace so that we “might glorify God for his mercy” (Romans 15:9). This is precisely the reasoning of Romans 9:22-23: “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory … ?” In his final judgment God will display the power of his wrath. But God could not demonstrate his capacity for mercy apart from ordaining a world of sin and a way for redemption. He endures with great patience the impenitent, so that he can magnify his all-glorious mercy in the eyes of those who put their hope in him! ~ John Ensor
Are you a vessel of mercy?  Or do you show partiality, preferring the ones who have it all together over the ones who are falling apart?

Be like Jesus.  Be free.

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