Main point summary
Do not create factions in the church by showing favoritism to the rich over the poor because the poor are your fellow heirs to the kingdom.
My brothers, 1 w show no partiality
as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, x the Lord of glory.
For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly,
and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in,
and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say,
“You sit here in a good place,”
y while you say to the poor man,
“You stand over there,” or,
“Sit down at my feet,”
have you not then made distinctions among yourselves
and become z judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my beloved brothers,
a has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be b rich in faith and heirs of c the kingdom,
d which he has promised to those who love him?
But you e have dishonored the poor man.
Are not the rich the ones who oppress you,
and the ones who f drag you g into court?
Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable h name by which you were called?
Observations and Questions: v1 Favoritism and the Gospel Are Incompatible "Show no partiality" is the command that governs this whole section Partiality = favoritism based on some arbitrary non-biblical variable Not showing favoritism is consistent with the gospel; favoritism and the gospel are not compatible. Why? God does not show favoritism when is comes to who is eligible to hear and receive the gospel (Luke 20:21; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Galatians 2:6) v2-3 An Illustration of Partiality James uses a hypothetical situation that is quite reasonable--you can conceive that it would really happen or, perhaps, has happened already Two men enter the assembly: One man receives special attention and preferred seating based on his apparent wealth The other man receives no attention and is demeaned by where he is told to sit based on his apparent poverty v4 Favoritism Creates Division and Judgmentalism 2a is the actual ground (reason) that the word "for" in 2a signals verse 4 is a rhetorical question: you have made ungodly distinctions and have become sinfully judgmental v5-7 Favoritism Doesn't Make Sense The criteria you are using to show favoritism is not the same criteria God uses The financially poor are often those who are rich in faith, heirs to an eternal inheritance, and, most importantly, the ones who love God! On the other hand, the rich are oppressive and vindictive The rich could not care less about the name of Christ-the Savior by whom you are identified The logic doesn't work: Why do you show favoritism to people who treat you so poorly, and worse, treat Christ with contempt? You're sucking up to people who don't care about you or Jesus, while treating people that genuinely love God poorly! What does this passage teach us about God? What does this passage teach us about ourselves? Do you feel the passion with which James writes? He knows the testimony of Christ and the church is at stake! How do you need to think and act differently? Change "rich" and "poor" to "popular" and "unpopular" or some other characteristic that distinguishes people.