International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday February 9, 2014
Purpose: To explore how the human tendency toward prejudice and discrimination conflicts with Jesus’ message of love, impartiality, and justice
Bible Lesson:Scripture Text: James 2:1-13
James 2:1-13 (CEB)
(1) My brothers and sisters, when you show favoritism you deny the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been resurrected in glory. (2) Imagine two people coming into your meeting. One has a gold ring and fine clothes, while the other is poor, dressed in filthy rags. (3) Then suppose that you were to take special notice of the one wearing fine clothes, saying, "Here’s an excellent place. Sit here." But to the poor person you say, "Stand over there"; or, "Here, sit at my feet."(4) Wouldn’t you have shown favoritism among yourselves and become evil-minded judges?
(5) My dear brothers and sisters, listen! Hasn’t God chosen those who are poor by worldly standards to be rich in terms of faith? Hasn’t God chosen the poor as heirs of the kingdom he has promised to those who love him? (6) But you have dishonored the poor. Don’t the wealthy make life difficult for you? Aren’t they the ones who drag you into court? (7)Aren’t they the ones who insult the good name spoken over you at your baptism?
(8) You do well when you really fulfill the royal law found in scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself. (9) But when you show favoritism, you are committing a sin, and by that same law you are exposed as a lawbreaker. (10) Anyone who tries to keep all of the Law but fails at one point is guilty of failing to keep all of it. (110 The one who said, don’t commit adultery, also said, don’t commit murder. So if you don’t commit adultery but do commit murder, you are a lawbreaker. (12) In every way, then, speak and act as people who will be judged by the law of freedom. (13) There will be no mercy in judgment for anyone who hasn’t shown mercy. Mercy overrules judgment.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Most of us do not think of ourselves as being prejudice. However, the truth is most of us are prejudice in one form or another. We see ourselves as accepting people of all races and creeds, the truth is we hold people different than us to a different standard. Some are prejudice to the poor, while others are prejudice to the wealthy. Some of us are prejudice to the educated or the uneducated. Some are prejudice to blondes, brunettes, redheads or bald. Still others are prejudice about social skills, or sense of fashion. Many in our culture are prejudice against those of Muslim beliefs, or other faiths we do not understand. Most disturbing is our prejudice because of age, illnesses, sexual preference, mental health, or disabilities.
In James letter or Sermon as some call it, James reiterates not only the teachings of Christ, but also those teachings from the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength. And Leviticus 19:18 states: you must not take revenge nor hold a grudge against any of your people; instead, you must love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.
James called this the “royal law” and warns that whenever we show favoritism we sin. James also reminds us that breaking one part of the law makes us guilty of breaking all of the law. In our own strength it is impossible not to sin, our salvation comes from the fact that Christ died so that we might become righteous in God’s sight. In the words of James “Mercy overrules judgment.” What a wonderful thought. We should also hear what the Psalmist says
(136) O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.
2 O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth forever.
3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth forever.
We can never use our salvation as an excuse for breaking the “royal law” James calls us to act like the redeemed, as people that have received God’s pardon and mercy.