God’s People and Respect of Persons

God’s People and Respect of Persons

James 2 is a chapter well-known and respected by Christians because of its discussion of faith and works (cf. 2:14-26). In that section of Scripture, faith that doesn’t express itself in outward action is “no good” and “can’t save” (vs. 14), “dead” (vs. 17), “useless” (vs. 20) and “as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so is faith without works” (vs. 26). There can be no living of a life well pleasing in the sight of God without appropriately expressing the relationship we have with God in action (see James 1:26-27). Faith and works are mentioned 10 times together in James 2:14-26; people ought to be mighty careful trying to separate what the good Lord has put together!

It is just as important to stress the truth of James 2:1-13 as it is regarding 2:14-26. James 2:1-13 speaks of how unacceptable it is to God for His people to prejudge, discriminate or to “show partiality” (cf. John 7:24; John 5:44; 12:43). It’s not uncommon to be guilty of showing partiality to others on the basis of the “Big 5” – achievement, age, appearance, affluence or ancestry.

If Jesus really is the “Lord of glory” (cf. 2:1), we ought not to show partiality toward others. It simply cannot be stressed enough that one can undermine their faith in Christ by such pre-judging and discrimination. To be overly impressed with the status and achievements of others may well mean we’re not nearly impressed enough with the Lord of glory! The key to practicing what is taught in James 2:1-13 is looking at others with the eyes of Jesus, feeling for others with the heart of Jesus and thinking about others with the mind of Jesus. Admittedly this is an area where all can better reflect what it really means for Christ to be in us as His people.

James 2 pointedly states that showing “respect of persons” is incompatible with the Son of God (2:1), the church of God (2:2-4), the grace of God (2:5-7), the word of God (2:8-12) and the judgment of God (2:12-13). Hear the last 2 verses: “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.” A generous dose of the “Golden Rule” would go far in helping us avoid this sin.

– Mike Vestal, Westside church of Christ, Midland, TX


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