Don't Play Favorites: Part 2
Favoritism violates the law of love and makes one guilty before God, so don't engage in it and show that Christ really is in you.
Published April 19th, 2021
Main point summary
Showing partiality convicts you as a sinner against the law; therefore, the things you say and do in regard to those in the church should accord with Christ's law of liberty.
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture,
i “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,”
you are doing well.
But if you j show partiality,
you are committing sin
and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
For whoever keeps the whole law
but fails in one point
k has become accountable for all of it.
For he who said,
l “Do not commit adultery,”
l “Do not murder.”
If you do not commit adultery
but do murder,
you have become a transgressor of the law.
and so act
who are to be judged under m the law of liberty.
For n judgment is without mercy to one
who has shown no mercy.
Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Observations and Questions: v8 The royal law is all that Christ has commanded, which contains much of the moral components of the OT Law James quotes Jesus' teaching in Matthew 22:37-40 regarding the greatest commands If you are loving your neighbor...you are doing well v9 Verses 9-11 present the alternative to obeying Christ's commands However...if you are showing favoritism, you are actually violating the royal law and will be convicted as a criminal violator v10 The reason why: if you violate one commandment, you will bear the responsibility for all of it Does that mean that if you violate one command, you will be punished as if you violated every single command? Yes...James' point is that the law cannot be separated into individual commands because the law reflects the character of the Lawgiver (Christ). Violating any law is a sin against God Himself and makes one guilty of the whole thing v11 An illustration to make the point: Adultery and murder were considered by Jewish rabbi's to be equal weight laws (they considered the violation of some laws more significant than others) It doesn't matter which one you've done, but that you're guilty of one of the worst sins requiring the most severe punishment v12 So....here's the way this teaching needs to be worked out in real life: Say the things you say and do the things you do knowing that you will be held accountable to the standard of Christ's law SIDE NOTE: Law and liberty don't always intuitively go together, so it is interesting that Christ's commands are called the "law of liberty". But the reality is that obedience to Christ's commands is the way we experience the most freedom (cf. Rom 6 ) . People that understand this want to obey Christ's commands out of love for Him and the freedom that He gives v13 And here's the reason why... Those who do not show mercy will be judged without mercy (cf. Matt 5:7) "Mercy triumphs over judgment" is difficult to interpret. It probably means something like: Even though we deserve judgment for violating God's law, through Christ we have been shown mercy implying that the mercy we show others is evidence of Christ in us and will vindicate us at the final judgment. SUMMARY: Favoritism violates the law of love and makes one guilty before God, so don't engage in it and show that Christ really is in you . ONE APPLICATION: Sometimes teens don't want to come to youth group or they leave it early because "they don't have any friends there." That could be the attitude of favoritism that James is talking about here. Not that it is bad to be better friends with some and not others, but what does it say about your attitude toward others in the church if you don't want to participate because the right people (i.e. your favorite people) aren't there?