Book of James – Bible Study – Part 6

Part 6 – Those with True Religion Should Serve

This is part 6 of a 15 part Bible Study on the book of James .

Compiled and written by Norma Becker – a true woman of God and God’s word.

*The Index, with links, to all 15 parts is at the bottom of each page.

Those with True Religion Should Serve

James 2:1-9

In chapter 1:19-27 James has shown the importance of putting spiritual truth into practice. Those with true religion should serve. Now he gets more specific in his instructions.

Now in James 2:1 he states the principle; it is illustrated in verse 2-4; explained in verse 5-11 and applied in verse 12-13.

The Principle of Favouritism

“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favouritism” (James 2:1).

Stated another way it could be: Faith in Christ and partiality are incompatible. Now he illustrates the principle:

“Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 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,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2:2-4)

So two men came to worship: one had all the trappings of being rich and the other was a poor man. The usher was faced with a choice: Where does he seat these two people? Matthew 23:6 helps us to understand this situation by telling us that there were “important seats” in the synagogues. The Pharisees loved the chief seats – apparently located down in front – because they could enter the place of worship in their elegant robes and march toward the front, calling attention to themselves. The usher based his decision on externals only and the rich man was given the seat and the poor man could sit on the floor or stand off to the side.

What do you Think the Usher’s Motives Were?

One commentary said it should read, “Are you not divided?” The division is between profession and practice – the profession of Christian equality and the practice of deference to rank and wealth. By doing this they show themselves to be judges with evil thoughts. If there is one place where class distinctions should break down, it is in the place of worship.

Now the principle is explained:

“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? 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? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?” (James 2:5-7)

James not only states that prejudice and superficial judgments are wrong, but he gives three reasons why they are wrong.

God Looks at the Heart

The first is a theological reason: Prejudice is inconsistent with God’s methods. From God’s perspective the real issue is not wealth or poverty but the condition of one’s soul. God looks at the heart. By saying that the believers’ poverty is poverty “in the eyes of the world,” James is suggesting that they are not really poor. They are “rich in faith” and heirs of the kingdom.

James is not saying that all poor people are “rich in faith,” nor does he exclude the rich from the ranks of the saved. There is also no merit inherent in poverty. One reason God “has chosen those who are poor” may be seen in the account of the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-27. There, Jesus indicated that those who have riches find it exceedingly difficult to enter God’s kingdom apparently because their wealth stands in the way.

The theological reason is because prejudice is inconsistent with God’s methods. Then there is a logical reason: Prejudice ignores the universality of sin in verse 6-7.

God had chosen the poor but they had insulted them. On the other hand weren’t the rich the ones who exploited them; weren’t the rich dragging them into court; and weren’t they the ones who blasphemed the name by which you have been called? To show favoritism to those who blaspheme that wonderful name was the greatest sin of all.

Finally there is a Biblical reason: Prejudice is sinful because it is inconsistent with Scripture in verse 8-9.

“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).

One well-known law given to Moses said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” It was said again. To show partiality was a contradiction of that law. To show favoritism is not merely to be guilty of an insignificant fault or a politically incorrect act; it is a sin. I guess we could say about ourselves, “If I show partiality or prejudice because of surface appearances, I sin.”

Part 7
: Expression of the Character and Will of God Himself


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Index of James Bible Study

Part 1 Who is James?
Part 2 When and to Whom Was James Written?
Part 3 How to Welcome Trials with an Attitude of Joy?
Part 4 What Does ‘Tempt’ Mean?
Part 5 What is the Key to Responding to Trials?
Part 6 Those with True Religion Should Serve
Part 7 Expression of the Character and Will of God Himself
Part 8 Spiritual Maturity
Part 9 Spiritual Maturity continued…
Part 10 What Causes Fights and Quarrels Among You?
Part 11  Is This How We Are To Be?
Part 12 What About My Plans?
Part 13 Let God be the Judge
Part 14 The Power of Prayer & Praise
Part 15 Summary and last part

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