Monday, March 24, 2008

Idenity matters

James 2: 1-13

1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism.

2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in.

3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet,"

4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?

6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?

7 Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself,"you are doing right.

9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.

10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

11 For he who said, "Do not commit adultery,"also said, "Do not murder."If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom,

13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

As I sat this morning and read the first part of James 2, I remembered a conversation I had with someone I think happened back in the 80's. The conversation topic was about signing up for a bible study on the book of James. I declined then simply because I knew James would cut me to my very core and I just didn't want to go there. To be honest, I think since the very first time I REALLY READ the book of James and took it into my heart, I've avoided reading it just because there is so much in the words that I know I still need to work out in my own heart.

I've lived on both sides of poor and rich, beautiful and not so beautiful, good and evil, so I can never say that I don't know what it feels like to be judged by outward appearance rather than inward. "Pretty is as pretty does" comes to mind, as my Aunt would say.

Learning to judge people begins small and very early like planting and growing tiny mustard seeds. When I was a child I played what I thought was a fine joke on my brother. I told him that the little black mole he had on his knee would actually begin to get bigger and bigger and one morning he would wake up and he would be all black. Months went by and I would catch him with a ruler checking to see if the mole had grown bigger. I would laugh and laugh.

My brother and I laugh about this from time to time but both of us realize jokes like this are part of our culture we are not proud of. Living and growing up as little segregated white children in the South found us learning discrimination by osmosis, judging people by their color rather than what their true identity in Christ was. It was confusing to go to church and sing "Jesus loves all the children of the world" and then come back home to reality where all the little children of the world went to separate schools, drank out of different water fountains, and went to different bathrooms.

There is so much on my heart this morning. I know through the day I'll be thinking on the verses from James I read today. This is a good thing. Today I pray that when I look at the outward appearance of others I will see beyond into their very souls and realize that it's not how they look or what they have or their status in the community but rather their position or identity in Christ that matters. At the same time I think of others, I'll be thinking of my own identity in Christ and pray that God will continue to show me ways to grow and forgive my sins when I fall short doing the things He would have me do.

Thank God that His mercy triumphs over judgment! Without that, I’d be up the creek without a paddle!

Anna Claire and Mother riding the tram at the Butterfly Center of Callaway Gardens yesterday.


Nonnie said...

hope you had a wonderful day yesterday, phyllis....sharing with family.
i have always felt so fortunate to be raised/and to have raised our children in areas where it was very diverse...melting pots...where each person was given merit according to their actions and treatment of others, rather than anything else....but there are all kinds of ways these human natures of ours are judgemental...very important verses to be reminded of daily....and i pray for a kind, accepting heart....and to leave the judging up to God....i remind myself of that also~
wonderful day to you,

Just Joni said...

I visited earlier and left quite a lengthy comment, but Blogger had an "error" and wouldn't let me post, then *zap ---everything I wrote was gone...but to summarize what I said earlier, this post speaks to my heart. I would break bread with my brethren; rich, poor, black or white...everyone has a story and that is what I love so much. I think when we are faced with discomfort we need to shake it loose and question ourselves at the reasons why and then extend a hand or a smile or something to move us beyond that feeling that ties us with unwarranted feelings of the past. I could go on and on, but in a nutshell, it's best to leave the judging to God ~

Hope you had a wonderful Easter Phyllis ~


Annette said...

I tell any one and everyone,"It is NOT our job to judge anyone" I have said that for so long and I diffentley mean when I say it, I had to get on my son the other day for making a rude comment about a homless person, I told "We don't know wh ythey live that way...but I bet their faith is stronger then yours or mine, and how dare you to judge" boy let me tell you he shuted fast!!!and then I reminded him he just might be your brother in heaven, you never know!! Love ya and glad your back.....Hugs Annette

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