Saturday in the Second Week of Ordinary Time

James 2:1-7

Show No Partiality

I remember when I was serving as pastor that my wife would occasionally send me on errands to the store.  At this particular church, I usually wore a suit during the week.  Like most men, I don’t like spending time in stores; unlike most men, I don’t mind asking directions.  This means that if I can’t find something expeditiously, I don’t mind asking an associate to find it for me.  I noticed on some occasions that when I did this, associates would treat me with more deference than usual.  I couldn’t figure out why until one day it hit me—the suit!  Imagine.  I was treated with more respect by people simply for wearing a suit than when I wore blue jeans.

This story helps elucidate how vain we are as people and the vanity of outward show.  We are so taken by appearances.  Indeed, we are so taken by dress that we will even judge a person’s character thereby.  Granted, there are inappropriate ways of dressing ourselves, but that is not what James speaks of here.  James addresses the sin of partiality whereby we treat people differently on the basis of dress assuming that the finer the clothing the better the person.  We may also suppose that the richer the person, the greater the hope for a benefactor.  Meanwhile the one dressed in rags is shoved aside since we have no hope that he will further our church’s fortunes in anyway, indeed, may even drain precious resources which could be used for…oh, pew cushions.

But James even takes matters a step beyond that: “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?”  And, “Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?  Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you are called?”  Now I have known generous rich people and lazy poor people.  But it is certainly true now as it was then that the movers and shakers of our society are those elite who blaspheme God’s name and treat Christians with contempt.  And it is also true that churches are full of “little people”; that is, people who earn an honest living and serve their churches faithfully.  But we must ever be watchful of this wicked tendency in ourselves to judge by appearances and remember what God said to Samuel: “For the Lord sees not as a man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).  May we search our own hearts that we not be taken by appearances and so discount a brother or sister who could teach us much about how to be rich in what truly matters—faith.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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