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James Series 04 - Treat People Equally

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Reading: James 2:1-13
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. James 2:8-9 (NIV)

I.   Don’t play Favorites (vv.1-7)

     A.  Don’t be Unfair

           1.  Even children sense what is unfair

                 a.  Sometimes they get it wrong

                 b.  Sometimes they exploit the idea

           2.  It isn’t easy being fair!

                 a.  Being fair doesn’t always feel like fair.

                 b.  Fair isn’t treating everyone the same, but everyone equally.

     B.  Playing favorites Discriminates

           1.  Discrimination isn’t just holding folks down

                 a.  We talk a lot about discrimination as holding people down – it does.

                 b.  But it’s just as wrong to push them up

           2.  It’s unfair to push people up just because they have some sort of status in the world

                 a.  It’s unfair to the person we push up – our expectations on them get too high.

                 b.  It’s unfair to those we ignore–our expectations are too low.

           3.  In the Church we are to relate out of a new set of interpersonal values.

                 a.  First everyone is in the image of God

                 b.  Second God’s people are His children.

                 c.  Third, we love as He loves.

     C.  A person’s Value isn’t their wealth

           1.  Superficial measures don’t matter to us.

                 a.  Sometimes the values we hold up are the very values that keep others down.

                 b.  It’s not just material wealth: power, prestige, eloquence, fame, other?

           2.  In the Church we value people to the degree that God loves them.

                 a.  However much God loves you, that’s how much I am supposed to value you

                 b.  To whatever degree God loves you, that’s how much I am to value you.

                 c.  Who is worth more than the one Jesus gave His life for?

II.  Keep the Royal Law

     A.  Love your neighbor as Yourself

           1.  Good thing some people don’t!

                 a.  Some people don’t love themselves!

                 b.  Some folks in the church hate not only their own sin, but themselves too.

           2.  God expects us to love ourselves.

                 a.  God command assumes that we do.

                 b.  Do we think we’re a better judge of who’s supposed to be loved than Him?

                 c.  No one has a greater responsibility for caring for you than you do.

           3.  God expects us to love those He brings into our lives as much and in the same way.

                 a.  We love those God also loves.

                 b.  We are to care for ourselves and care for others to the same degree.

                 c.  Loving means treating with dignity.

     B.  Playing favorites Breaks the law

           1.  We are breaking the law, if we favor one neighbor above another!

                 a.  Breaking the law of love is akin to adultery and murder!

                 b.  Come to think of it, favoritism is rooted in the same thing as adultery & murder.

           2.  It’s against the law of love to play favorites

                 a.  Love your neighbor as yourself–not some a little more, others less!

     C.  To break part of the law is to break All of it

           1.  The law that gives freedom is a whole package – not a smorgasbord.

                 a.  We don’t get to pick the parts of the boat that will get us to freedom!

                 b.  To kick out a few of the boards on the boat sinks the whole boat.

           2.  A lawbreaker is a lawbreaker

                 a.  Our idea of what’s a major or a minor infraction isn’t God’s.

                 b.  When we break God’s law, we move to the other side of the line.

           3.  To violate the law is to violate its author

                 a.  It is sometimes not the offense as who is offended that counts most.

                 b.  When we break the law of love we “dis” God, in whose image we all are.

III. Treat people Mercifully

     A.  Mercy is the opposite of Prejudice

           1.  Mercy is rooted in compassion.

                 a.  This word for mercy is as much attitude as action

                 b.  Make mercy your lead attitude in relating to people

           2.  Not the mercy that comes after judgement

                 a.  We usually think of mercy coming after a decision has been made.

                 b.  This is mercy that gets in front of judgement.

           3.  Mercy pre-forgives, prejudice pre-judges

                 a.  Do we look first to blame or understand

                 b.  This mercy presumes we’re all on equal footing here.

                 c.  Don’t be quick to condemn!

     B.  The Royal Law judges your Actions

           1.  Not just what’s in your head.

                 a.  Love isn’t simply something inside

                 b.  Loving your neighbor isn’t merely feeling kindly toward him/her.

           2.  Not just what you think is in your heart.

                 a.  If what you feel in your heart isn’t lived in your life, what you feel isn’t love.

                 b.  It’s not just about believing we’re equal it’s treating each other equally.

     C.  Mercy Triumphs over judgement

           1.  Judgement only looks more powerful

                 a.  It is powerful.

                 b.  But it’s not the most powerful thing

           2.  After judgement has had its final say, mercy can undo it.

                 a.  Mercy triumphs whenever it is used.

                 b.  God is full of mercy

                 c.  So we should be too.

The Bottom Line:

Let’s treat each other with Equality, as God’s Children, whom He loves Unconditionally.

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