Sunday School Material 2-9-14: Treat Everyone Equally

(James 2:1-13; 2/9/14)

Introduction:A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is believers are urged to treat everyone with love and equal respect. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to love everyone with equal respect.

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Read James 2:1-4

I. Problem Identified. James urges his readers to avoid showing favoritism. He illustrates how a rich person may be treated better than a poor person. He calls them to avoid discrimination and being judges with evil thoughts.

Applications -

- Spiritual siblings. Notice in vs. 1 the reference to the readers as brothers and sisters. Believers ought to see themselves as spiritual siblings.

Based on our siblinghood, we should work on loving, encouraging, and supporting one another’s efforts to be all that God is calling us to be. Let’s work on being caring spiritual siblings.

- Favoritism. Notice in vss. 1-4 of our Sunday School material the call to avoid showing favoritism. Racism and sexism are sinful as well as the classism in our text. Let’s work to avoid showing favoritism.

There are too many in church who treat those who appear to be middle class and upper class better than those who appear to be poor or struggling along in the working class. Think about the message sent, when a church has a banquet that costs $50 a plate with no exceptions. The implication is that those who can afford it are welcome and those who can’t are not.

God sees this as being essentially like judges with evil thoughts. It is sinful to discriminate, especially among God’s people.

Read James 2:5-7

II. Problem Evaluated. James talks about the blessings given to the poor. The poor should not be dishonored. He talks about how the rich are often the ones who exploit others.

Applications -

- Faith development. Notice in vs. 5 of our Sunday School material that it is not strange for those who are poor in wealth to be rich in faith. We know that those with much faith have many blessings.

On one hand, we ought not push the text too far and say that you need to be poor, in order to have faith. Nor should we say that you cannot have faith and wealth. But on the other hand, it seems easier for those without the temptation of relying on their wealth to rely on God.

Let’s work on our faith development, by hearing and obeying God’s word with the support of other believers.

- The place of wealth. Notice in vss. 6-7 of the Sunday School material that the implication is that many of the rich in the text became rich and remain rich by exploiting the poor.

On one hand, we should not think that we can only become wealthy today by exploiting the poor; therefore, we should not strive to be wealthy. But on the other hand, we should make sure that in our quest for wealth (or being a wise stewards of our resources, so we can retire) that we don’t fall into the trap of exploiting those who are less fortunate than we are.

Think about how maids, illegal immigrants, tenants who cannot pay rent and others are often exploited. Let’s keep wealth accumulation in its proper place.

Read James 2:8-13

III. Problem’s Solution. In our Sunday School material James talks about the royal law of loving your neighbor as you love yourself. If a person breaks one law, that person is guilty of breaking all of the laws. The readers are urged to speak and act like judgment is coming.

Applications -

- Loving one another. Notice in vs. 8 of the Sunday School material that the royal law is to “love your neighbor as you love yourself.”  The commentator suggested that it is the royal law because it rules over the other laws.

First, the command to love others, as we love ourselves, assumes that we love ourselves. We should work on loving ourselves so much that we take care of our health and wealth.

Second, to love others as we love ourselves means to love others the way they want to be loved. Those who like to be loved with touch should be loved with touch. Those who like to be loved with words should be loved with words, just like we like to be loved in our love language. Let’s work on loving one another.

- Getting ready for judgment. Notice in vss. 9-13 that everyone has broken at least one of the laws, we are all therefore law breakers. We are urged to speak and act with the mercy that we are willing to give an account of, when we stand before judgment.

First, all of us are guilty of some kind of sin. If it is not smoking, it may be failing to give to God with the right attitude. If it is not adultery, it may be lust. If it is not gossiping, it may be failure to help someone in need.

Second, those who sow mercy can expect to reap mercy. But those who sow judgment without mercy can expect the same. Let’s work on living the best that we can and include a generous amount of mercy towards others.

Conclusion: Let’s work on loving everyone with equal respect. God has much for those who obey His will.

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