James 2:2

Saturday, 29 June 2019

For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, James 2:2

James now makes an interesting statement saying, “For if there should come into your assembly.” The word translated as “assembly,” is sunagógé, a synagogue. The word is seen fifty-six times in the New Testament, but this is its only use when speaking specifically of a gathering of believers in Christ Jesus.

It is used in the gospels and in Acts many times, but it speaks of a meeting of Jews in the ordinary sense. It is used twice in Revelation when speaking of the “synagogue of Satan,” meaning the Jewish assembly which rejects Christ throughout the church age. However, James writes now of the synagogue when referring to believers in Christ. Hence, it is a taste of what is seen in blooming in the world today, that of the “Messianic Synagogue.”

It is another good indication that James, though writing to believers in his own day, is an epistle which prophetically looks to the state of the world in the end times, just prior to the return of Christ.

Of that type of gathering, James notes that there may come in “a man with gold rings, in fine apparel.” The word “rings” is actually singular in the Greek – “a gold ring.” The word for “fine” is lampra, and it signifies “shining,” or “splendid.” It is an adjective which describes our modern day “lamp.” This guy is really something. He is obviously wealthy.

However, along with him someone else arrives. He is “a poor man in filthy clothes.” The word translated as “poor” signifies “bent over.” He is destitute and beggarly. His outward appearance may seem objectionable to those around him, especially because of the word translated as “filthy.” It is a word found only here and in Revelation 22:11. It gives the sense of being foul or squalid. When used in regards to morals, it would be a wicked person. The appearance of these two is completely the opposite. James is comparing the external appearance of them to help us make right judgments. This will continue for the next few verses.

Life application: What would you do if you faced this situation? Let’s add to it and ask, “What if the man in fine clothes smelled heavenly because of some great aromatic oil like patchouli, but the poor man in shabby clothes smelled worse than a cow stall in summer?” How would you react if they both came to a Bible study in your living room? Pastors have to face this from time to time and they have been known to fail… money is a great enticement.

People in the congregation are no different, we gravitate toward those whom we can benefit from or whom we don’t find repulsive. However, the biblical model is that we should treat all equally and not respect one over another based on wealth.

It is the wealthy who look down on others, as if they are less worthy; it is the wealthy who look down on those who drive cheaper cars; and it is the wealthy who look down on those who live in a different and less affluent neighborhood. And yet, we gravitate towards them because we feel we can somehow improve our status by being around them.

The same is true of any movie star or radio personality. Despite having glamour and wealth, they are often the most mixed up and insecure people around – having drug, alcohol, and family problems in abundance.

Instead of judging by appearance, we need to evaluate others based on who they are as individuals. In particular, we should look at their potential in Jesus Christ. If we do this, then the externals of those we encounter will fade away and the true beauty or ugliness of that person will be evident.

Lord Jesus, give us hearts to deal fairly with others despite their external appearance or social status. May we not show preference to anyone because we can benefit from them, but let us deal with all men according to the wise principles we learn from Your word. This we ask so that You will be pleased with our hearts as we interact in all of our relationships. Amen.

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