Partiality: Rich Man, Poor Man

What good is our faith if it is never put into practice with others? In our study of James, He tells us that the overflow of our faith should affect those that we come into contact with. And James, like any good pastor would do, provides his readers with a real life example. In this case, a rich man in fine clothing and a poor man in rags both walk into a worship gathering of believers. Enamored by the rich man’s appearance and unimpressed by the poor man’s presence, they prioritize the rich man and disregard the presence of the poor man.

 

For James, this response is a faith issue and comes down to answering the question, “Who do you trust in?” Think for a moment about what James’ audience is going through; they have been persecuted and then scattered abroad. With this understanding, we can assume that this is a group of people that mostly likely have great needs physically, financially, and emotionally. So the easy thing to do is to look to the rich man to meet these needs. According to James, living this way leads to partiality and favoritism.

 

Remember this, faith is always consistent with what it claims. The believer, who holds the faith, should understand that what God has done for us through Jesus was done 1) Impartially and 2) With no expectation of receiving anything in return. With this being said, James first would say to this group of believers acting in favoritism, “If you claim then to have faith in a God who is impartial, then why are you acting partially?” And then secondly, “If God gave to give, then why are you giving to get?

 

James' solution to this problem is to remind his readers, and us for that matter, with Gospel Truth. Why do we love? Because our King first loved us. Why do we forgive? Because our King first forgave us. Why do we serve? Because our King serves us? Yes, when we did not deserve the gift of salvation (Romans 5:8) God still gave. And when we could never repay the great gift that He gave, God still chose to do so. Resting in this truth leads to a consistent faith and a life of impartiality. If we truly know the King, then may we reflect His character to those around us.