James on Discrimination

James on Discrimination

(Jas. 2:1-13)

Make a list of character-neutral traits.

Let me help: genealogy, level of education, geographic origin, being bald, biological gender, age, income level, skin color. These are character-neutral, meaning these traits (singularly or combined in one person), have nothing to do with the real character of the person. Hence, we have no right to reject, shun or degrade anyone based on anything in this list. Are you with me?

In typical human interaction, this is often a problem. I grew up in a time and place where racial discrimination was common. The public schools I attended did not implement court ordered de-segregation until the second semester of my senior year (1966, twelve years after the Supreme Court ruling).

My father forbade any racial attitudes or remarks in our home. But outside our home, we lived in a community that was discriminatory. (In southern local churches in the 1940’s and 50’s, black brethren were often welcome to visit meetings, but in a roped off section at the back of the auditorium. I recall a black preacher being asked to lead in prayer. He came forth from the roped section, stood before the audience and led the prayer, then returned to “his place.”)

a man reading indoor
Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

I hope we all now see the inconsistency of that. And I hope we are committed against all other forms of discrimination, where people are treated as inferior based on some character-neutral trait.

Read This: My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.  For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?  Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. – James 2:1-13 (ESV)

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