by, May 5th 2010 at 02:49 PM (357 Views)
"The Power of Love, Impartially"
In Ephesians 5 verse one we are commanded to 'Be imitators of God'. It is God who loves all men and wishes them to be saved. This being true, it is dishonoring God to show overweaning impartiality to anyone group of people at the expense of another. This was being practiced in the church among the people that James was instructing in his letter. At that time, there was no 'middle class', just poor of well off. The vast majority muddled along in various stages of being poor or 'just getting by'. What James is crying out against is a common practice. As people of God, it should not be so among us, is James point.
Paul told the Galatians:
5:1 The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Earlier, he has said:
3:28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
These two are basic fundamentals for Paul. There is:
Eph. 4: 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;
5one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
There is a fundamental 'oneness' that binds all of God's people together in thought and in fact. We must act in love and humilitym, as Paul enjoins in verse two and three. He speaks of 'humility', 'tolerance', and 'love' in the reality of this oneness that we find ourselves in.
So, James is simply pointing out that the lives of his people are not reflecting what Jesus has done for them, and the value that Jesus has given to all their lives. Our lives were not purchased with gold or silver:
1 Peter 1: 18...knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold... 19but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
All of God's children have a precious, inestimable value in His eyes. Ironically, Elihu, in the book of Job states this impartiality from another point of view, that of God as creator. Elihu makes the statement that:
34: 1 Then Elihu said:
2 "Hear my words, you wise men;
listen to me, you men of learning.
3 For the ear tests words
as the tongue tastes food.
4 Let us discern for ourselves what is right;
let us learn together what is good.
5 "Job says, 'I am innocent,
but God denies me justice.
6 Although I am right,
I am considered a liar;
although I am guiltless,
his arrow inflicts an incurable wound.'
7 What man is like Job,
who drinks scorn like water?
8 He keeps company with evildoers;
he associates with wicked men.
9 For he says, 'It profits a man nothing
when he tries to please God.'
Elihu is basically attacking Job's argument that God is assailing Job and that, because of this, it shows that there is nothing to be had by following God. Elihu is not so much attacking Job's past sins, as he is trying to show where Job is wrong, and to show that God is right in all His judgments. In other words, Elihu is trying to prove that God is impartial. What Elihu will point out is that God inflicts all the sam way, that all are in His hand, and God does not favor the powerful at the expense of the weak and poor. God is holy, righteous and impartial in all that He does.
10 "So listen to me, you men of understanding.
Far be it from God to do evil,
from the Almighty to do wrong.
11 He repays a man for what he has done;
he brings upon him what his conduct deserves.
David backs this with this statement:
Ps. 12And lovingkindness is Yours, O Lord,
For You recompense a man according to his work.
Elihu lays down the fact of God's impatriality, and David connects it to God's love. As God loves all men, so He does not show favor to one at the expense of another. As parents, we love all of our children nd would not favor one just to take away fromall the others. In the parableof the prodigal son, the father tells the older boy that 'all that I owned is yours'. This was a reminder to the Jews that God also loved the Gentiles, as the Pharisees well knew, or should have. Peter learned this lesson later in Acts:
10:34Opening his mouth, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,
35but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.
Peter learned that God's awesome love extends to all, even the Gentiles. It was this point that would give rise to the problem debated in Acts 15. So James drives the point home:
5Listen, my dear brothers: 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? 6But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?
There is a strange point here. In Luke 6:20, Jesus says:
20And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
But, in Matthew 5 Jesus says:
3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The difference is that in Luke Jesus 'the poor', but in Matthew Jesus says 'the poor in spirit'. I think this is case where one just clarifies the meaning of the other. The 'poor in spirit' are not as tied to the things of this world, they are poor in terms of posessions and in terms of longing for them. As Paul told Timothy, it is the 'love' of money that is the root of all evil. When Jesus pictured the kingdom of God as a Pearl of Great Price, he meant it literally, you could not purchase it with wealth. The 'poor in spirit' where better able to appreciate this since they were not tied to the things of this world.
Paul has this to say:
1 Cor. 1: 26For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;
When Christianity began to grow in the Empire, one of the knocks against it was that the Noble and well bred were not among the Way; that it was mainly the poor, the slaves and the 'rabble' that seemed to flock to this 'new religion'. In many of the early writings that attacked Christianity, this was a common theme. While there were many of 'noble birth' among the believers, the vast majority just 'plain, common' folks. Indeed, Jesus said this:
Matthew 11:25At that time Jesus said, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.
It was just those who had the biggest stake in the goods of this world who were most active in rejecting Jesus. As John describes the lure of the world:
2:16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.
The writer Hebrews simply warns, and promises:
13: 5Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, (I)being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,"
6so that we confidently say,
"THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID.
WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?"
It was the 'love of money' that was splitting the church for James, and it was separating some from the love that God gives to all those who are His. Our confidence is in the power and might of God and not in what the world has to offer. As the writer of Hebrews puts it, if our confidence and love is with God, what do we really have to fear?