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.