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INTRODUCTION: As we continue in a series in the Book of James called “Living Faith”, let me read to you what I read this week by Joel Engle, he is a Los Angeles based author who writes for the New York Times. This is what he said, talking about an experience he had on a bus one time, he said, “Considering the large crowds inside, the lack of voices startled me. Only a rustling of newspapers and the groaning diesel engine broke the silence. Several well-dressed men stood in the aisle, so I assumed all seats were taken. But as I moved to the rear, I spotted an empty aisle seat on a double bench. And fathomed at once why it remained unoccupied. A young man next to the window was breathtakingly ugly. His grotesques face apparently the victim of thyroid tumors. Yet it wasn’t only his face that made him so unappealing, his long, filthy, matted hair and tattered clothes warned others away. It was obvious that he was a homeless man, and it was very easy to guess why. He sat with his shoulders hunched, his eyes fixed through the window, truly the image of a beast forlorned and excruciatingly lonely. Nearly paralyzed by pity, I gave thanks that my young daughter was not with me asking me inevitable questions in a non-too discrete voice, or worse uttering revolution. But it was because of her that I finally sat down. The kind of man I want my daughter’s father to be sits on the bus next to someone whose only crime is extreme ugliness. I cannot pretend that I relaxed. My left shoulder and arm scrunched involuntarily and my entire torso leaned peace like away from him. Continuing to stare out the window, he did not acknowledge my presence. The bus made one more stop before entering the freeway, several people boarded. An elderly walked toward the rear, I waited for anyone, male or female, to offer her a seat and none did. And so I stood and motioned to her. “No,” she said, “I don’t want to sit there next to him.” That is a painful story to read, is it not? When we read about something like that our heart goes out to this man. But what if I told you that that sort of thing happens in the church? As a matter of fact it happened so often in James’ day that he takes a whole section of his letter to address this issue. And he talks about partiality. He talks about discrimination. He talks about favoritism. And the principles that he gives here are principles that we desperately need to hear as the church. Now, people today discriminate. They discriminate on the basis of appearance, on the basis of ancestry, on the basis of age, on the basis of achievement or affluence. But whatever it is, James is trying to tell us that partiality and prejudice is a sin. If you discriminate against someone because of their race, their face, or their place, you are sinning against God’s grace. And that is what we want to see here. We are looking at the story, I call the title of this sermon, “The Short-Sighted Usher”. Now you ushers relax, I am not preaching to you necessarily. Thank God for good greeters and good ushers, we have them here. But the usher that we are going to talk about here in this story was not a good usher. I call him the short-sighted usher, and we are going to see why. Look what happens in verse 2, now James says, “Look, don’t have the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ and have respect of persons.” Why, look at verse 2, “For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, ‘Sit thou here in a good place’; and say to the poor, ‘Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool’; Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?” Here we see the short-sighted usher. Now, James is giving a hypothetical situation in this passage, but I think he is giving a situation that happens all the time. He is describing something that was commonplace. Here is this man that comes into the assembly. Look at the description of this man. He is a man with a gold ring, actually the Greek reads like this, a gold fingered man. Did you know that it was common practice among the well-to-do people that day to wear numerous rings on their fingers as a mark of social status? As a matter of fact a Roman statesman and philosopher, Seneca, wrote this, “We adorn our fingers with rings and we distribute gems over every joint.” So these people that were wealthy wore a lot of rings. And here this guy comes into the assembly and he is obviously a very rich man, he is filled with rings, he has a gem at every joint as Seneca says. And he is wearing fine clothing. He wears beautiful clothes it says in verse 2. As a matter of fact, the word for his clothing, to describe it, is a Greek word, lampros, which means to shine brilliantly, to be white, to be dazzling. This was the word that was used to describe the shining garments of angels who appeared when Cornelius was praying in the Book of Acts. And did you know back then, the Romans wore white togas and they would also, if you were a politician back then, you would actually make your toga even whiter or brighter by rubbing chalk on it. It would just give off a bright appearance. This man may have been running for political office. He is wearing bright clothes and he is dazzling. And he comes in, and boy, he makes an appearance. Every eye, you can just see, turns towards this man. Some people, when they come to church, the only thing they are concerned about is appearance. Have you heard about the lady that said to her husband, “Did you notice Mrs. So and So had a new dress?” He said, “No.” She said, “Did you notice Mrs. So and So’s new hat?” He said, “No.” She said, “Well, did you notice Mrs. So and So had this new purse?” He said, “No.” She said, “Well I don’t understand why you go to church. You never get anything out of it.” (Laughter) Some people when they come to church all they do is look at outward appearance. Here is this man, he comes in and he is beautifully dressed, and then here comes in a poor man. Look what he says in verse 2, “and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment.” The word vile here is a word in classical Greek that means dried dirt. And so this is a man that had one set of clothes. Perhaps, the clothes that he wore to church were the same clothes that he wore when he went to work. That is all he could afford. The Romans, when you would white toga, and it would get dirty and you wouldn’t clean it, the Romans had a word for that, sorda, or where we get our word sordid. And so here is this man, he comes in, he has dirty clothing. He is not very wealthy. It is very obvious by his appearance that he is not well off. And what happens? Notice the discrimination of this usher. He says, look in verse 3, “And ye have regard unto him that weareth the fancy clothes, or the wealthy clothes, and say unto him, ‘Sit thou here in a good place’ and you say to the poor, ‘Stand thou there or sit under my footstool.” The word that talks about assembly here is sunagoge, where we get the word synagogue. It just means an assembling together, a place to go and assemble. It could have been an old synagogue they were using to meet in as a church. Those old synagogues did not have many places to sit, just a few benches on the front. Normally, when the wealthy came in, they got the front. But they did have footstools for people to sit on. But here this man when he comes in he is taken out of this place and the usher says, “Go stand over there. Or sit before a footstool, or under a footstool.” In other words, don’t even use the footstool to sit on, just sit on the floor. In other words, just get out of the way. Go stand. If you have to sit, sit on the floor. So this was a double disrespect. He gets moved from the seat and he is told to sit somewhere on the floor if you don’t want to stand. And James looks at this and he is filled with anger. He says, “You have become judges of evil. Evil judges of motives. And you have become partial in the church. Now by doing this, it is a great sin against all mighty God. And this is the thing that James addresses. I was reading one time where Ronald Reagan, when he was governor, and his wife Nancy came to church late. And the usher brought them in and brought them down to the front, and there were two college students there and the usher told the college students to go sit on the side. And he sat Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan right down in the front. And the Pastor, to his credit, got up walked down and said to them, “That will never happen to you again as long as I am the Pastor of this church.” But that is what James is talking about right here. The usher looked at this poor man and he says he is not worth much. And he makes a judgment based on outward appearance. Dr. Adrian Rogers used to say, “Never judge a jewel that comes in a plain box.” And that is so true. But by doing what he did, he was judging this man. Look at verse 1, I want you to see another phrase in verse 1. It is “respective persons”. It actually means in the Greek, to lay hold of a person’s face. It was a compound word, prosupon, face, lavono, to seize or to grab. To lay hold of a face is what he is saying. When you judge a person based on just their outward appearance, based on just their face, then you are committing partiality.
Now, when the usher did this, he forgot some things. This is what I want to show you in the passage. When the short-sighted usher looked at the poor man and treated him disrespectfully, he failed to look past him to see four great truths. There are four things he forgot, or four things he did not see when he treated him the way he did. Now I want you to see them. First of all, he did not see . . .
I. THE GLORIOUS CHARACTER OF OUR LORD. He forgot to see that. Look in verse 1, “My brethren”. Do you see that phrase? When James says that, he is about to address an issue that needs to be changed. “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.” In other words, don’t hold the faith. It is an imperative, a continuing way of life, present tense imperative. Don’t hold the faith of our Lord Jesus and have respect of persons. That is inconsistent. How can you say that you are a Christian? How can you say that you are a follower of Jesus Christ, and yet you have prejudice, and yet you have partiality? Don’t hold that. Don’t keep that. That is not the way the Lord Jesus was. And the reason? Notice how he addresses Him, the Lord Jesus, the Lord of glory. Now, I think a good way to translate this would be, “Hold not the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ who is Glory. I think that is the best way to translate that. In other words, he is giving the title of Jesus. Don’t hold the faith that Jesus gave us who is Glory.
Now why did James use that title? That is very interesting. Why would he call Jesus Glory here. Let me give you two reasons, first of all James is trying to show us that this is . . .
A. Incompatible with Who Jesus Is. Did you ever hear of the expression “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? That was never more true than of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you know why? Because Jesus Christ, on all outward appearances, was nothing special. And yet inwardly He was the Glory of God. Now some of you have been with us on Sunday nights. We have been talking about the glory of God, and we been pointing out that Jesus was the Shekinah Glory of God. If you go after the Old Testament, you are going to find that whenever God manifested His presence, it was always with some Shekinah glory-like. In the Garden of Eden, when he walked with Adam, it was in Shekinah glory-like. On the face of Moses, God’s glory shown when Moses went up to Mount Sinai. God’s presence lit him up and when he would come down, he shown like a light bulb. And the people got to see the glory of God. And then in the Tabernacle, and then later on in Israel’s history, the glory of God came. But then in the Old Testament, it lifted up off the Temple and departed. When did it return? It returned in Jesus Christ. The Bible says that we beheld Him, the Glory, the only Begotten of the Father. The glory of God returned in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was God’s glory. Do you remember on the Mount of Transfiguration, when the Bible says that all the glory on the inside of Jesus begins to shine outwardly. He was showing what was in Him on the inside. And now let me tell you something, when Jesus walked the dusty shores of Galilee, He did not always walk around shining the glory of God. Outwardly, the Bible says He was just an average man. He was a homeless person. Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head. Jesus was a poor average person outwardly. And the Bible says in Isaiah 52, talking about the Messiah, “When we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire of Him.” Outwardly, He was just a plain man, but inwardly He was the Glory of God. That is why you never judge a person on what you see on the outside. Inwardly Jesus was the Glory of God, and so this is inconsistent with the character of Jesus. It is not who He was. He was the Glory of God. And by the way, did you know that when you get saved, you have that glory inside of you? The Bible says that we have this treasure in earthen vessels, clay pots. If someone wants to call me a “crackpot”, that is fine because if you see a crack, the glory is just going to shine out. Because inside of me is the glory of Christ, and inside of you when you come to know Jesus. So you never judge a person based on outward appearances.
B. Incompatible with What Jesus Demonstrated. Jot down Matthew 22:16, “And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, ‘Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man; for thou regardest not the person of men.” That was the way Jesus was. It made no difference to Him who He was ministering to, whether they were wealthy or poor. It did not make any difference whether they were a Jewish leader or just a common man. Whether He was speaking to a virtuous woman or a prostitute, a high priest or just a common worshipper, it made no difference. Jesus did not look on the outward appearance. He looked on the heart. He wasn’t impressed with riches or social status. He looked at the poor widow who gave her money and said she gave more than anything. Jesus looked upon the heart. And so to hold partiality in your heart is inconsistent with the glorious character of Jesus. He was the example of how to treat people, and we should follow in His example.
And so when the usher made this judgment against this man, he forgot the Glorious Character of the Lord. But there is a second thing that he forgot. He forgot . . .
II. THE GRACIOUS CALLING OF THE CHURCH. Look again in verse 4, James says “Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?” In other words, James says you have become judges with evil motives when you make this kind of judgment. What if a judge in court, when he made his judgment, it was based solely on a person’s appearance. Would you call him a just judge? No. If a judge refuses to give justice to a person just because he doesn’t like the way he appears, he is an unjust judge and it is evil. But I want to tell you something that is even more evil when that sort of thing happens in church. When you treat a person less than they ought to be treated because of their appearance, James says you are committing the same kind of sin. When I first got saved as a teenager, just a few weeks I had been saved, I started going to Sunday school class. I had long red hair. Can you picture that? I went into a Sunday school class. I was new there, shy, kind of not wanting to be notice but wanting to hear God’s word. And the Sunday school teacher pointed me out. He said, “Jerry I want you to read a verse.” I said, “Okay.” He said open your Bible to such and such passage. I opened it. He said, “Now I want you to stand up.” To a teenager just coming into Sunday school, that is not a thing that you want to do. I stood up. He said, “Read the verse.” I said, “Okay.” And then this is the verse I read, “Doth not nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a shame unto him.” And then he looked at me and said, “Jerry why do you have long hair?” I was crushed. He was looking at my outward appearance, but do you know what he did not see? He didn’t see a young kid whose heart had been touched by the Lord, who just wanted to please Him, just wanted to serve the Lord. And I will tell you that after that service, I went out and got a haircut. I mean I got a haircut. I got a real haircut. I would say I got a crew cut, but the “crew” bailed out! (Laughter) It was a haircut! I thought if having short hair is what pleases God, then I am going to do it. If that is what pleases the Lord. But he did not know that he crushed me. I wonder how many times when people come to church, when we make a judgment on their outward appearance, we crush their spirit. That is not the way the church is to operate. Mahatma Gandhi made a study of all religions of the world, and he concluded that Christianity is the true religion. And he determined that this is what India needs, and so he went to a church to learn more about Christianity and an usher met him at the door. And he said to him, “We are sorry sir, but this church is for Europeans only.” And Gandhi turned away and he rejected Christianity. And he became the Hindu leader of those people, a man that could have done so much for the kingdom of God had he come to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Now that is not the calling of the church. God’s house, God’s church is for everyone, no matter who you are, no matter what your social status, no matter what you look like. All are invited to come into God’s kingdom. There is no inequality in the kingdom of God, Jesus taught this very principle. Look in Matthew chapter 20, this is the parable of the landowner. Look what He says in verse 1, “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.” Verse 2, “And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.” Verses 3-16, “And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace. And He said unto them, ‘Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you.’ And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, ‘Why stand ye here all the day idle?’ They say unto him, ‘Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, ‘Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, ‘Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, ‘ These last have wrought but one hour, and thou has made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, ‘Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last.” So what is Jesus’ point here in this story? Here is the landowner, hires somebody early in the day, hires some people in the middle of the day, he hires some people at the end of the day. And when it comes time to pay them all, what do they all get? The same wage. They all got one denarius, one penny. And those that were hired early said, “You should have given us more.” And the landowner says, “Look, I have the right to give you whatever I told you. We agreed for one penny. Because you are greedy, am I evil?” And then Jesus said this, “The last shall be first and the first shall be last.” What did Jesus mean? He means that everybody that comes into the kingdom gets the same blessing. A person who is saved early in life and labors for the Lord all of their life, they receive the glory of heaven, but a person who is saved right at the end of life, guess what they get. The glory of heaven. Do you know what? There is no class distinction in heaven; there is no first class place in heaven, second class, third class. We all inherit the same glory of heaven. We all get the same reward. We all finish first, to use the analogy of a race. How can the last be first and the first be last? Only one way, we all finish in a tie. We are all tied. In other words, there is total equality in the kingdom. There is no one person better than another. That is what Jesus is trying to say. That is what the church needs to realize. God does not have any second class citizens. They are all people of the kingdom, people for whom He died.
And so this usher, he forgot the Glorious Character of Our Lord, he forgot the Gracious Calling of the Church, but I want you to see another thing when he made his judgment. This short-sighted usher, he forgot . . .
III. THE GENTLE COMPASSION OF THE FATHER. Go back to James 2:5. “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?” What is James telling us here? He is saying that God has a special compassion for those who are poor. He has a special love, he sets this love upon them. Abraham Lincoln said, “God must love poor people. He made so many of them.” And the Bible bears that out. Jot down Leviticus 19:15. “Ye shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty.” 1 Samuel 2:38, talking about God, “He raises up the poor out of the dust and he lifts up the beggar from the dung hill, to set them among princes and to make him inherit the throne of glory.” And then in Job 36:15, “He delivers the poor in his affliction and he opens his ears to the depressed.” And Psalm 41, David said, “Blessed is he that considereth the poor, the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.” In other words, if you take care of the poor, God is going to take care of you. Why? Because God has a special heart for those who are poor.
As a matter of fact He says several things about the poor. Notice . . .
A. The Position of the Poor. In verse 5 He says, “Harken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor?” There is a sense in which the poor chosen of God. “Hath not God chosen the poor?” He says they are chosen. Do you know what God likes to do? God likes to take people who are nobodies in the world’s eyes and he likes to make them somebodies. He likes to take people who are weak, and make them witnesses. He likes to take people who are despised, and make them His disciples. He likes to take the nobodies and make them nobilities. That is God’s plan. Paul said that. He said for your senior calling brethren how do not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Why does He do that? Because He gets the glory. God takes people that are rejected of the world. I remember when I was growing up, we went to play football in the neighborhood. We had this one guy, when it would come time to choose sides, he would let the other team pick their first ten and then he would take whoever was left over. And he was so good, that he could take these ten people that nobody wanted and he could turn them into winners because really he was good. He would just say give me the ball and everybody get out of the way. And he put all these guys that were not very good athletes on his team and they would win. And those guys walked away feeling like champions. They could not play sports to save their life, but they walked away feeling like champions because this guy was so good. That is what God does. Do you know why I feel like a champion this morning? Because God put me on his team. I am not really much, but I am on a winning team. He runs the ball, I just get out of the way. That is what God does. That no flesh should glory in His presence. And so God says they are chosen. But then also another thing He says about the poor, they are rich in faith. Hath not God chosen the poor, rich in faith. Now the rich man outside of Christ has a tendency to trust in his riches. That is why he said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to go to heaven. Riches can be a curse if they keep you from God. But there is a certain thing about those who are poor, God says they are rich in faith. They are not blinded by material wealth, and so God says they are rich in faith and there is another thing, they are heirs of the kingdom of God. God has ordained that they be heirs of His kingdom. Jesus said the meek shall inherit the earth. And so God takes a poor man who is rich in faith and He makes them His child, and do you know what? He becomes rich. You know I do not have a lot of assets down here on this earth, but I am rich. Like these two little girls in kindergarten, they were comparing how much money they had. And they each had five pennies. And the one girl, she counted her five pennies, she said, “I have five pennies.” And the other girl, she began to count her five pennies, and she said, “I have ten pennies.” And the other girl said, “No, you have five just like I do.” And she said, “No. My father said when I get home, he is going to give me five more. I have ten pennies.” Let me tell you something, when you count your assets, do not forget what your father is going to give you when you get home. Make sure that you count that up when you count up your assets. Now if you count up my assets here, you are not going to find a lot, but friend, I have a lot of assets laid up there. I want to tell you we are rich.
God says He has chosen the poor. They are rich in faith and He has made them heirs of the kingdom and James is saying that. That is why you need to be careful, but also notice . . .
B. The Persecution of the Rich. And James says, talking about the rich man back in that day, he said they despised the poor and the rich oppressed them and they draw them in before the judgment seat. Back in this day, many rich Jewish people were doing that. Now, James is not saying it is wrong to be rich. Let me tell you something, some of God’s greatest Christians are rich. Do you know why? Because God has blessed their industry, God has blessed them putting Him first. It is just the blessings of the Lord. But these people that James is talking about were those who were wealthy but they were wicked. And James says they oppressed the poor and yet here you are showing partiality towards them.
And so, this usher, he forgot the Glorious Character of the Lord. He forgot the Gracious Calling of the Church. He forgot the Gentle Compassion of the Father who favors, or we should say, looks down with compassion upon those who are poor. But then here is a fourth thing he forgot, or he did not see. He did not see . . .
IV. THE GREAT COMMANDMENT OF THE LAW. When he made his judgment. Here is the last thing, look in verse 8, “If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well. But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that saith, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.” What is James saying here? He is saying, first of all you have forgotten to obey the royal law. If you obey the royal law, you do well. What is the royal law? It is this, to love you neighbor as yourself. Now, question, why did James call that the royal law? Possibly two reasons. Number one because of King David. And number two, you become like a king when you obey it. But I think the reason he is calling it the king of laws or the royal law is because all of the law is fulfilled in one word. Do you know what it is? Love. All of the law is fulfilled in one word. As a matter of fact, jot down Matthew 22:37-40. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” What did Jesus mean by that? All the law in the Old Testament is obeyed by loving horizontally and loving vertically. You see when Moses came down out of that commandment, how many tablets did he have? He had two tablets, right? The first tablet had to do with loving God with all your heart. And the second had to do with loving your neighbor as yourself. And all the law is fulfilled in that. If you just love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself, you are going to fulfill the law. As a matter of fact, if you read through the Old Testament, do you see some of those laws in the Old Testament? They will relate it to one of those two principles. It either has to do with loving God with all of your heart or loving your neighbor as yourself. For instance, let’s take one law as an example. What about the verse where it says, “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treads out the corn.” Did you ever read that verse and say, “Man, why is that in there? What is God trying to say?” Later on when Paul is quoting that verse in 1 Corinthians 9:9, Paul asks this question, “Does God take care for oxen?” In other words, is God concerned about the ox? Is that why He gave that law? That is not the point. What is the point then? Let’s say it like this, it has to do with loving your neighbor. Let me give you an illustration. What if someone came to me and they said, “Brother Jerry, we would like to use your van. We do not have a van. We are going to take a long trip and we would like to use your van.” I say, “Sure, no problem.” So I shine it up. I clean it out. I give it a full tank of gas. I give the person the keys, and I say, “Here man, here is the van, just use it.” And they said “Thank you.” And so they use my van, and they bring it back. And when they bring it back, it is dirty on the inside. It has a big old dent on the outside, and the gas tank is on “E”. You say, “Man, that is not loving you”. No it is not. It is not loving your neighbor. You see what would happen in the Old Testament is this, a man would borrow his neighbor’s ox to get some work done. And while the ox was out there treading out at the mill, he was muzzled, so the ox could not eat. He couldn’t eat up some of his assets. So when he gave the ox back, it was weary, worn, and starving. That whole law there was just to govern loving your neighbor as yourself. So, all the laws have to do with love. Loving God with all your heart or loving your neighbor as yourself. If you are doing that, you are fulfilling all the law. But I can even blow it down to even just one law. Listen. To love your neighbor as yourself IS loving God. Because Jesus said, “Listen, in as much as you have done unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.” So really all the law hangs on that one nail called love. And if the nail breaks, then the law falls and it shatters, and it crashes, and all of the law is broken if you don’t love. And James is saying, listen you are forgetting the great commandment. You are forgetting if you disobey, if you violate this one commandment, then all the law comes crashing down. Now someone might be sitting there saying, “Well, I am a New Testament Christian. I do not live by the law.” Let me tell you something, when the Holy Spirit saved you He put the law of God inwardly in your heart. You are supposed to do it in the power of the Holy Spirit. You fulfilled the law and the power of the Holy Spirit. And that is to love. And so James said listen, if you don’t obey that one thing, then all the law is broken. It all crashes down. You have violated all the law, when you do not love others the way you love yourself, the way God commanded us to love. And then he closes it out. Look in verse 12, notice what he says, “So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” So what is James saying? Listen, he is saying, show love. That is the fulfillment of the royal law. Let me ask you a question, when it comes time for God to judge you, do you want God to give you a lot of mercy? How many say “Yes, that is me. I want God to show me a lot of mercy.” When it comes time for God to judge me, I want God to give me a lot of mercy. How can I be guaranteed that? When I give mercy to others. If I am merciful to others, then God will be merciful to me when it comes time at judgment. That is what he is saying. He is saying in verse 13, “For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy.” When it comes time for God to judge you, if you have shown no mercy to anyone else, God is not going to give you any. But mercy triumphs against judgment. If you have shown a lot of mercy and a lot of love to others, when it comes time for God to judge you, God will give you a lot of mercy. That is what he is saying. So just remember that.
CONCLUSION: And so this usher, he failed to see the Glorious Character of the Lord. He failed to see the Gracious Calling of the Church. He failed to see the Gentle Compassion of the Father. And he failed to see the Great Commandment of the Law to love your neighbor as yourself. Let me just close with one illustration and we are done. One Sunday morning some people on a subway, it was a quiet peaceful scene, and all of a sudden a man jumped on the subway, his kids were rambunctious. They were running up and down the aisles, ripping away newspapers people were reading, being very, very bad. And the father of these children sat there, oblivious to what was going on and a man was irritated by this. He thought, “Man, this guy should get his kids under control. And finally, after he had lost his patience, he said to the man, “Sir, do you see your kids are just out of control. Can you do something to restrain them?” And the man looked at him and said, “Oh yeah, I am sorry. You see we just got back from the hospital. We just got news that their mother had died. And to be honest with you I am just not sure how to act. And I don’t think they know how to act either.” Let me tell you something friend, we do not know what bitter experiences people have had when they walk through these doors. We just do not know. Do you know what? I want Ellendale Baptist Church to be a place where everyone is loved, where everyone is received because of who Jesus Christ is, that we reflect Him in all of our actions. Let’s pray together. Heads are bowed and eyes are closed. Father, we thank you for this word from James. Lord, he is so very clear in what he has to say. And Lord, so many times we maybe inadvertently fail to show the true love and mercy of our Savior in our actions. And Father forgive us for the times when we have made judgments against people based on their outward appearance and we have become partial. Father, I pray you will forgive us for that. I pray that you will help us to truly love others the way that you would have us to love them, that we would reflect the glorious character of our Savior Jesus Christ. And Lord, that when people would walk through these doors, the thing that they feel first and foremost is the love of Christ. They feel accepted, they feel loved, they feel the compassion of the Father, the love of the Savior. Lord, may it be true. Forgive us, Lord, for where we failed in this. Forgive us. And cleanse us from our sins. Now with heads bowed and eyes closed, I just want to give an invitation. If you are here today, and maybe you are visiting, maybe it is your first time to come to church, maybe it is your first time to come in a long time, and you really can’t honestly say that you know that you are a Christian, that you really are saved. Let me tell you something, there is no one that loves you the way Jesus loves you. And there is no one that will accept you like Jesus, and He waits with His arms open wide. The Bible says, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus bids you come to Him. Lay your burdens down, the burden of sin. Come to Him. Trust Him today as your Lord and Savior. If you want to trust Jesus Christ, would you pray this prayer in your heart and mean it? Lord Jesus, I turn from my sins, I turn to you. I ask you to come into my heart, be my Lord, be my Savior, be my God. If you will pray that friend and mean it, Jesus can save you today. He will save you today. Secondly, maybe you are a Christian here today. Maybe God has spoken to your heart. Maybe you need to stop being judgmental. Stop being partial in your judgment. Maybe you need to pray that God would forgive you for that and baptize your heart in love, the love of Christ, so that you could receive others the way God wants you to receive them. Whatever the Holy Spirit has spoken to you about my friend, I am going to invite you to come. Maybe you are here today and you say God is leading me to unite here with Ellendale Baptist Church, to join this church. Friends, we open our arms to you and we say “Come”. Whatever the Holy Spirit has spoken to you about, in a moment we are going to give an invitation, I am going to be standing down here, we will have counselors here ready to pray with you. You come as the Holy Spirit leads you. May God speak to your heart. Do what he says.
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You Have Hope exists to preach the clear, inspired, sufficient Word of God without compromise and with true conviction, so that listeners learn, understand, and trust the Hope which God has provided in His Word.
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