It’s sin. To show partiality is sin. To regard one person as more esteemed simply because of their high socio-economic status, and ignore another because their not so high socio-economic status is partiality–and that’s sin. To pamper the rich and brush aside the poor is wrong. And James says to his brothers (and sisters), “Don’t do it!” Rather, James says, fulfill the royal law, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (James 2:1-8).
And I get it. I’m pickin’ up what James is laying down. I understand the “to do.” I underline it as a command to obey.
But what captures my attention this morning, beyond the what of the command, is the why.
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.
(James 2:1 ESV)
As believers, we hold the faith. That’s what I’m noodling on this morning.
Not only have we believed the truth, but now we possess the truth. The conviction of belief results in a carrying of that belief. Having received it, we are now responsible for it. What was once simply regarded as our salvation, continues to be our stewardship. We are holders of the faith.
What we do becomes the commentary on what we believe. Because we are holders of the faith, when we show partiality, or we discriminate, or we fail to recognize all men and women as created in the image of God, it says something about the gospel we say we trust in. That while it may be the power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16), it’s not the power for everyone. That the good news is only good news for some, making distinctions based on external factors. Like whether someone is rich or poor. And we know that’s not true.
Listen, my beloved brothers, 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?
(James 2:5 ESV)
“Those who love Him”, not those who have a hefty balance in their bank account, that’s who God’s chosen. They’re the ones counted rich in faith and worthy of the kingdom.
Not only do our actions represent what we believe in, but they also reflect on Who we believe in. If we have been born of God, if we are being conformed into His image, and make arbitrary distinctions among people, then musn’t our God do so also? But we know that’s not true either.
There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.
(Romans 2:9-11 ESV)
We are holders of the faith. That’s it. Our default position. That’s part of the deal. Part of what we became when we believed.
Sounds kind of heavy if you chew on it a bit. Brings to mind Paul’s question, “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2Cor. 2:16).
Short answer: We are! Because we are those who steward the faith under the law of liberty.
So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.
(James 2:12 ESV)
The law of liberty. The law that tells us not only what to do, but gives us the power to do it. The law that not only models the right stuff but mediates when we fall short. That not only reveals when we fail but has provided the means, through the atoning work of the cross, for our forgiveness.
We can embrace being holders of the faith because of the faith that holds us. Our sufficiency found in His sufficiency. Our ability the outworking of His indwelling presence. Imitators of God through abiding in the Son.
Holders of the faith. Who is sufficient? We are!
By His grace. For His glory.