James 2:9

Saturday, 6 July 2019

…but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. James 2:9

James just cited the royal law which is that, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” He now shows that “if you show partiality, you commit sin.” The word translated as “you show partiality” is found only here in the Bible. It indicates favoring an individual, and the idea is that of doing so over others.

God has given the royal law which disallows any type of unjust partiality in our dealings with others. We are to treat all the same. In showing partiality, we therefore commit sin.

The word translated as “commit” is one which signifies “to work.” Therefore, it says more specifically, “you work sin.” Further, the word “sin” is in the emphatic position. The Greek reads, “sin you are working.” There is a high stress on the consequences of showing partiality and the negative connotations which accompany such an act. In the commission of the act, James then says that you “are convicted by the law as transgressors.”

A person can show favoritism outwardly where others see it, or they can do so without anyone else knowing it. Thus, like coveting, this is as much a sin of the heart as it is something which can be actively committed. As the Lord reads the hearts and minds of man, there is no escaping the act, from the moment it germinates in the heart to the time that the act actually occurs.

In showing favoritism, we err against the written law of God. James will explain what this means in the next verse, but even without that further explanation, we can see the far-reaching and all-encompassing condemnation which surely arises from the Law of Moses. It is a “body of death” as Paul calls it in Romans 7:24.

We cannot escape the thoughts of our heart and the evil inclinations which are buried there. They come forth even when we try to extinguish them, and they bring about only condemnation. As Paul called out concerning this state, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” His answer comes in verse 7:25, “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Life application: Jesus Himself said that all the law and the prophets (the entire Old Covenant) hang on our loving God with all of our being and on loving our neighbors just as we would love ourselves. The impossibility of meeting these two laws is revealed in our daily breaking of the other points of the law in a thousand ways. The good news is that although we all have fallen short of this, Jesus didn’t. As He said –

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17

Be sure to understand what Jesus is saying. In His ministry, He was accused of violating the very law He came to fulfill. Instead, He fulfilled it. This was done on our behalf and it is the reason that we are not under the law. The law was not made obsolete by Jesus’ inaction; it was made obsolete by His actions.

This still doesn’t excuse us when we show favoritism, but it allows forgiveness when we do. It should be our aim to live a life of honoring God and of loving our neighbor, but when we fall short, there is mercy and forgiveness in the blood of Christ.

James’ words should convict every person that they have fallen short of God’s glory and are in need of an advocate. There is one! His name is Jesus and He shows no favoritism. He is willing to forgive all who call on His name. Take time today to tell someone else about His wonderful gift.

Thank You so very much, O God, for Jesus! Though I’ve shown favoritism a thousand times and failed to love my neighbor as myself again and again, I know there is power in the wonder-working life of my Lord and Savior! Where I failed, He prevailed. And so to Him belongs my heart and my joy! Thank You, O God, for Jesus! Amen.

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