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Living by the Royal law-Part one

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
(Jas 2:8-13)

Maybe James is expecting some protesting from his audience. Maybe he expects them to say that they are not showing partiality, that James misunderstands. They might protest “Custom or respect requires some special treatment for the rich person.” As I said in my last post, if the President were to visit, you could welcome him saying “Mr. President….” and this would be respectful of the position.   But, to fawn over him because of his influence or the prestige of having him in your congregation is something James would have us guard against, especially when another brother of lower estate is shuffled off to the overflow seating….why not give him your seat next to the President?

Anyway, James says “Well, if you really are doing the royal law, then good” however, he doesn’t drop it there. Recognizing that this audience might not be letting his words sink in, that is, they are not being “swift to hear, slow to speak”, he still adds the warning: If you show partiality, it is a sin and the Law tells you the same thing.

Which law you have to ask? Which law indeed? The law of Christ or of Moses? In this case, (though I think he refers to Moses’ law) the two overlap. The 2nd greatest commandment that Jesus talked about with the Pharisees is the Royal Law that James mentions and under either law, when you do not show the love for your neighbor that you would show for yourself, you sin. Showing partiality is a sin in God’s eyes.

Peter had this problem and Paul rebuked him in Gal 2. It was the judgment of some Jewish Christians that Gentiles should not be eaten with. When they showed up, Peter got caught up in it and then so did Barnabas. Barnabas!  Even the son encouragement (cf Acts 4:36) was drawn into a less than encouraging situation.

James indicates that no mercy was being shown to the poor brother. Instead evil thoughts and judgment dishonored him. However, the problem with the dishonored brother is not just a problem for the poor brother. (Hopefully he will look past it and boast in his exaltation. James 1:9) There is now a problem for the judge, the brother showing partiality; he is now condemned and condemned as a lawbreaker. Worse, he showed no mercy to his brother, what mercy should he expect from God?

Lord willing, We shall continue this thought tomorrow…..

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