James Lesson 6


Opening Discussion:  Jesus was born in humble circumstances, of a mother who called herself a lowly "maidservant".  (Luke 1:48)  His birth was first announced to shepherds (Luke 2:8-11), and He was raised by an obscure carpenter.  As you ponder these things, what do you believe is the message of God to all mankind, regarding the humble beginnings of His Son. What was God's intent and what is He trying to tell us, from the people whose lives He chose to bless with the advent of His Son?

1. James was writing to address a matter he sees developing in the Jerusalem Church, one that could easily develop in any group or fellowship of believers, that is , showing partiality.  He writes to lovingly, but clearly, warn that such actions are the exact opposite of what God desires of us.

2.  James gives us some suggestions on how to recognize partiality, and more importantly, how to serve with compassion and show mercy to others, rather than judging them.

3.  Showing partiality or favoritism is a sin, and an obstacle to developing spiritual maturity.

a.  This problem was not unique to the Jerusalem Church.  Other scriptures which deal with this problem include: (i) Deuteronomy 1:17; (ii) Acts 10:34; and (iii) Leviticus 19:15.

b.  Making judgments based on outward appearances is an indication of the sin of partiality.  That is one of the other things that God wants to teach us in selecting a stable for Christ to be born in, using seemingly unimportant people for Him to be born to, and announcing the birth of the King of Kings to lowly shepherds (the most unimportant of unimportant people at the time of Jesus's birth).

Q1.  Identify some ways the world makes value judgments on people today, that God may well frown upon.  The world is clearly on the wrong track in such judgments.

c.  Note that God showed and still shows, no favoritism or partiality among people.  (Rom. 2:11; Eph. 6:9)

d.  James seems to be well aware of his Christian brothers and sisters displaying such conduct, when he asks the penetrating question, "Have you not shown partiality among yourselves?"  (James 2:4)

4.  James also teaches that showing compassion toward all people is God's way.  He does so by asking four discriminating yet indicting questions:

a.  Has God not chosen those who appear poor (materially), but who are rich in faith (spiritually)?

b.  Are not the rich ones those who are consistently guilty of oppression, extortion, and slander?

c.  Is it not the rich ones who drag you into court and oppress you?

d.  Is it not the rich who blaspheme the name of Christ?

5.  When James uses the word "rich", he is referring to those who use their position, wealth, titles, etc. when making discriminating judgments of those not at their level.

6.  What James is really saying is, "Quit judging others based on outward appearances, and love all based on God's Royal Law, 'Love your neighbor as yourself'."  (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:39)  When we love others in this way, we will pursue their well-being with the same intensity that we give to ourselves.

Q2.  What do we tell the world when we build magnificent places of worship, and lavish them with rich adornment and the finest fixtures?  Do we give the lost and dying world an improper picture of what Christ teaches?

Q3.  What are some practical ways we can guard against showing or being judgmental of others?  In their dress?  In the houses where they live?  In the cars they drive?  In their speech or accents?  In the color of their skin?

Q4.  Is there such a thing as "reverse partiality", where the poor make improper value judgments about those of greater means?  Do the same principals apply to all people?

7.  When we show mercy to others, God will judge us in a similar manner.  Thus the principal we should live by is, "Show mercy to others, and God will show mercy to us."  (Matt. 5:7; 6:14, 15)





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