Bible study: The book of James (part 3)
Humility, Partiality & Mercy
Passage: James 1:9-11; 2:1-13
Humility (Jas. 1:9-11)
'Reversal of roles'
Lowly person boast in his exaltation? (v. 9)
Rich person boast in his humiliation? (v.10)
Scripture forbids us to be boastful (1 Peter 5:5b)
Poor, despised people should not feel too lowly, because God is going to exalt them, especially at the Last Judgment
Rich people should not feel too comfortable in their achievements, because whatever they accomplish is temporal (v. 10-11) and would one day disappear. They should thus humble themselves, knowing their lowly estate before the eternal, thrice-holy God.
Therefore, these verses is not telling us to boast but is to tell us
That we can boast in the Lord (1 Cor. 1:31); our comfort is in Him, and we will be exalted in Him in eternity — Antidote to low self-esteem - focus on Christ
That we should remember our humanness, our weakness, and our depravity which still lingers on in our flesh. Know that no good ever comes from us, but that all good things come from the Holy Spirit working in us, therefore we 'boast in our humiliation' — Antidote to all forms of elitism and pride
Partiality (Jas. 2:1-13)
Discrimination in treatment between the rich man and the poor man (v. 1-4)
It can also cover discrimination of any kind (due to race, social status, power, fear etc.)
Such discrimination is said to occur in the church (the assembly – v. 2)
Why is it wrong?
You become judges with evil thoughts (v. 4)
God did not so judge them. In fact, God chose the poor in the world rather than the rich (v. 5)
Why? Because God chose the things that are not so that all glory goes to God and none to Man (1 Cor. 1:26-29); no one can boast
You are being foolish (elaborated below)
You violate God's Law (elaborated below)
In context, the rich often are the ones who harm the believers then, and blaspheme God
For us, this class of people by way of analogy normally are those with power and/or status
We can see from the context that this is NOT talking about believers who happen to be rich (v. 7 – believers do not blaspheme God), but about the class of rich and influential people as a whole (bourgeois)
Therefore, these two verses (v. 6-7) are talking about believers treating people who are rich well so that
They may curry favor so as to get influence, relief from persecution etc.
They may be won for Christ (Winning people does not mean that you treat other believers like dirt so as to accommodate them)
This is foolish behavior since ultimately you would still lose out (v. 6-7)
Showing partiality breaks the law of God
Breaks the moral law as found in the Great Commandment 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself' (v. 8)
If you break the law at just one small point, you would be accountable for breaking all the Law (v. 10)
Mercy and judgments
Our attitude should be
Judging on the basis of the law of liberty
Christians are to love each other and thus judgment must proceed out of a love for God and His people.
Whoever shows no mercy would not be shown any either, thus we are to be merciful to others
Mercy triumphs over judgment
This is to tell us that we should be merciful first instead of swiftly passing judgment
In God's perspective, His mercy is the thing that saved us from being under the wrath of God
Whatever God doesn't judge, we shouldn't judge either
Note: Again, this is not to say that judging is wrong, but that it must be done Scripturally
Note: If, however, God judges on this issue, it would be disobedience to feign being merciful if we do not follow His judgment. Therefore, if God does judge, we should also. We should not think that we can be more loving than God!