5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: 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? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?
8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,”[b] also said, “You shall not murder.”[c] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
Doesn’t it just seem to be a part of our human character?
We tend to think of and act differently towards those who are more well-known and/or prosperous compared to people who may be poorer in the things of this world. But as Christians, people who are supposed to think and act like Christ Jesus, this mindset is certainly wrong!
Part of being a Christ follower means that we go “against the grain” of the worldly nature.
The Lord is no respecter of persons, which means He shows no favoritism towards people or social classes, (Matthew 10:34). He loves all people equally, and as His disciples, we are expected to practice the same behavior. And we must do so with genuine sincerity…
In his bible study guide entitled “Life Lessons,” Max Lucado talks about this problem as it pertained to the first century church:
“In the atmosphere of social ostracism that existed around the early church, Christians were strongly tempted to treat any prestigious visitors with special deference. The wealthy were given special privileges not extended to other guests. James was determined to confront this partiality that threatened to undermine the gospel and socially fragment the church. The antidote? God’s royal law of love.”
And just what is that “royal law” of love? Well we should all know it: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” (V. 8).
But the problem of making all people feel warm and welcome is not confined to just the early church, it still exists today. Almost every church group is looking to build up attendance. We all have visitors on a somewhat regular basis.
Let us think about a time when we may have visited a different church. What was done, if anything, to make us comfortable and welcome? Was the experience more positive or negative?
Of course the first and most important reason to attend Sunday services is to glorify the Almighty God, and to follow the acts of worship outlined in the bible. These include prayer, study of the bible, singing praises, giving of our means, and taking communion.
But we want to do so in the fellowship of like-minded bible believers. And the more of these we have, the better the service unto the Lord! Conversely, if we are chasing off visitors for any reason, or perhaps even members due to our actions or words, we are destroying the process of church growth and shaming God in the process!
In this instance, we have become hard-hearted, judgmental, and fail to show the love of the Savior to others. Remember, we will be judged by the “law of liberty”…the same law which we are breaking, (V.12)!
We need to think of ways to make visitors to our church see and feel the welcoming spirit which should exist in our congregation. Go over and introduce yourself. Ask if they are new to the neighborhood. Do so no matter what their outward appearance may be. If this just “isn’t for you,” find a friend to go with you for support. It will become easier over time.
In closing these thoughts, just remember to treat all people in the same way, showing the love of the Lord to both visitors and members alike. Be kind and courteous to all who have gathered in your midst to glorify and praise God.
Practice the “royal law” of God and make an effort to treat all people as you would like to be treated yourself, both inside and outside of the church building!
Refs: ~”Life Lessons,” (Max Lucado)~ Google~ biblehub.com~ biblegateway.com~