1. In Proverbs 24:23 a subject is mentioned that God requires His people to avoid -- "respect of persons" [partiality]. 2. Our lesson is based on a lengthy discussion of this subject in James 2:1-13. 3. To help us understand what we are talking about, . . .
I. HAVING RESPECT OF PERSONS IS ILLUSTRATED IN VS.2-4
A. This situation involves 2 men entering a Christian worship assembly. 1. One is a rich man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing. 2. The other is a poor man wearing dirty clothes. B. Those who have respect of persons will treat these 2 men differently. 1. Those who are partial will give the rich man a good place to sit. a. Will he be treated this way because he is a good man? b. No, he is shown favoritism just because he is rich. 2. Those who are partial will tell the poor man to stand somewhere or sit in a very lowly place. a. Will he be treated this way because he is a bad man? b. No, he is looked down upon just because he is poor. C. Now that we know what having respect of persons is, let us consider . . .
II. 4 REASONS WHY WE MUST AVOID HAVING RESPECT OF PERSONS
A. First, having respect of persons is forbidden. 1. (Proverbs 24:23) Solomon said that it "is not good." 2. James 2:1 teaches Christians not to have respect of persons. B. Second, having respect of persons makes no sense (vs.5-7). 1. (vs.5) Consider how God feels toward the poor -- He has blessed them in a special way. a. This does not mean that all poor people are good. b. However, as a general rule, poor people are more receptive to the Gospel. c. Looking down on poor people just because they are poor makes no sense. 2. (vs.6-7) Consider how rich men have treated Christians. a. Some rich men have oppressed Christians, they have drawn Christians before the judgment seats, and they have blasphemed the Lord's name. b. This does not mean that all rich people are bad. c. Giving preferential treatment to rich people just because they are rich does not make any sense. C. Third, having respect of persons violates "the royal law" (vs.8-11). 1. This "royal law" is identified in vs.8 -- "love thy neighbor as thyself." 2. Jesus called this law the second great commandment (Matthew 22:39). 3. Having respect of persons violates this important commandment. D. Fourth, God is no respecter of persons. 1. (Romans 2:11) "For there is no respect of persons with God." 2. To be God's children, we must not be respecters of persons.
III. HOW TO AVOID HAVING RESPECT OF PERSONS (vs.12-13)
A. (vs.12) We are to speak and act according to "the law of liberty." 1. The law of liberty emphasizes "mercy" over "judgment." 2. According to vs.13, if we show no mercy, we will receive no mercy. 3. (Matthew 5:7) "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." B. Additional passages: 1. (Matthew 7:12) Practice the Golden Rule. 2. (Matthew 7:1-2) Avoid unfair judgments. 3. (John 7:24) Make fair and impartial judgments.
1. Having respect of persons is a sin; therefore, we must avoid it. 2. Let us remember the statement that Peter made in Acts 10:28 when he went to the home of Cornelius: "God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean."