Beth Eden Baptist Church
Dr. Craig M. Jenkins, Pastor
Lesson 13 November 29, 2020
This lesson has as its foundation the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself (James 2:8). If we discriminate against someone just because he/she is poor or if we unjustly favor one person over another, we are breaking this commandment. And if we break this commandment it is the same as breaking all the commandments (James 2:10).
We would not want to be discriminated against and therefore we should not do so to our neighbor. Our neighbor is anyone to whom we can show mercy and God's love. It doesn't have to be someone whose views or physical attributes are similar to our own. It could be anyone.
This is in the spirit of loving our neighbor as ourselves. If we want it for our self we must also want it for and give it to our neighbor.
It is in this spirit that we must show mercy to others if we want God to show mercy to us (James 2:13). The same is true for forgiveness. If we want God to forgive our sins against Him, we must forgive those who have sinned against us.
"For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions." Matthew 6:14-15 (NASB)
We want to be shown mercy and forgiveness, therefore "to love our neighbor as our self" dictates we should show others mercy and forgiveness.
Through love, we will treat each other fairly and without discrimination. It is through this impartial love for our neighbor that we will have a welcoming church, free for all who wish to attend, without partiality. This is the guiding principle that James taught through our reference Scripture. He used an example of when a rich person and a poor person attends one of their meetings. Imagine the "meeting" is our church service or other church activity:
"Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in." (James 2:2 NIV).
"If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, "You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor"—well, doesn't this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives? If you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law."
(James 2:3-4, 9 NLT).
It all comes back to loving our neighbor as ourselves. If we should fall on hard times and are poor or homeless how would we want to be treated when we enter a church service? If we are told to "stand over there, or else sit on the floor," we would be hurt and probably would never return to that church ... or any church. That is not how Jesus wants us to treat the poor (James 2:5).
Based on First Baptist Church of Chattanooga, TN
Submitted by Donna Reed