It’s Not Good to Judge A Book by its Cover

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If you are with us online, you are online at a very important time. Pastor Dave is teaching from the New Testament book of James. James is hard-hitting, but he is saying things that need to be said to the church. Pastor Dave has given two messages on faith from Chapter 1. Chapter 2 begins again with faith. “My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.” The important words are:

1. Lord of glory – gives our Lord Jesus a high position
2. Faith of our Lord Jesus – tells us we have nothing of ourselves… not even faith
3. Partiality – which James calls in v 4 evil thoughts and in v 9 sin.

The reading of Ch 2 tells me the church was deciding on people by their appearance.  Even our God had to explain Himself to the mature prophet in 1 Samuel 16:7. Samuel was deciding by what Mark Twain called “Its name is Public Opinion. It’s held in reverence. It settles everything. Some even think it is the voice of God.” Read 1 Samuel 16:7: “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him.  For the Lord does not see as man
sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”  

The Lord Jesus had to explain His ministry. Whenever He mixed with outcasts and other disreputable characters, the religious were mightily upset. But He told them, “I have come to call sinners to repentance not the righteous.” (Luke 6:32). Jesus did not spend His time with those who thought they were already good enough. James is telling the church there is nothing spiritual about distancing yourselves from those with the wrong appearance. “You pay attention to those wearing fine clothes.” – James 2:3.      

The scriptures say: Romans 2:11: “there is no partiality with God”, Acts 10:34: Peter opened his mouth and said: “in truth, I perceive that God shows no partiality.”  Job 34:19: “God is not partial to princes. Nor does He regard the rich more than the poor: for they all are the work of His hands.”

We all have favourites, we have heroes, we are prone to hero-worship, it can become idolatry. But this is not how The Lord Jesus adds people to his church, not according to appearance. This one looks rich… this one looks poor… this one is famous… this one is not. We rarely discern others accurately. Almost every conclusion we have about them is flawed and based on limited knowledge. We decide too soon because we can’t see what our Lord Jesus is looking at. Remember Joseph? His brothers made a mistake. Remember Ruth, the migrant worker, working in the fields of Boaz? She will become his wife, yes, the one who owns the fields. Look beneath the surface. Appearances can be deceptive… appearances were causing the church to sin in James 2. The church has been wrong since James wrote his letter.

From Judgement to Greatness

Vincent’s father was a clergyman and Vincent had a passion for the ministry. This led him to the coalfields of Belgium, where he preached to miners, tended the injured, fed the poor, wore cast-offs, lived in a shack and gave his salary to the people. His church was filled with these people eager to learn about Jesus. But his superiors were not happy. They decided by appearance. “You look worse than the people you came to reach” they said, so they dismissed him. Hurt and discouraged, his brother Theo, an art collector, encouraged him to paint. The young preacher who was rejected by his denomination eventually became an artist the world now remembers: Vincent van Gogh. The church was wrong. James says the church was doing wrong. Appearances leading to partiality were wrong.

When country singer Lonzo Green’s nephew Jimmy asked him to tune a friend’s guitar, he agreed. The problem was Jimmy’s friend was from the poor side of the tracks. And Jimmy’s parents would not allow him in their house. So, they met outside. As Jimmy’s friend approached, Lonzo Green noticed his self-consciousness, poor demeanour and sidewise glances at the upscale neighbourhood. Lonzo tuned his guitar, played a few songs and taught him some chords. The young man thanked him; left with a warm memory he would remember throughout the rest of his life. Eventually, that boy crossed the tracks to the good side with his guitar. He was welcome ever since. The boy who was not allowed into Jimmy’s house was Elvis Presley.

Partiality Based on Appearances is Wrong

Partiality based on appearances is wrong, it is not for the church. The Lord Jesus in John 7:24 began to speak to the multitude about John the Baptist: “What did you go out to see?” He was telling them not to judge by the way things look.

The Apostle Paul faced this partiality when he tried to join the church after his conversion. In Galatians 2:6, he is speaking of the apostles: “But from those who seemed to be something-whatever they were makes no difference to me.” God shows no personal favouritism to man – “for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.” The King James Version says: “God accepts no man’s person.” No matter what uniforms we wear, how many medals we have, whatever papers have been written about us, makes no difference to God, we are not accepted, only in His Son… “to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved Son.” (Ephesians 1:6) We are nothing without our Lord Jesus, without His Grace. Psalm 39:4-5 says “Lord make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, you have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is nothing before You.” Certainly, man at his best state is but a vapour.

We are saved by grace. There is never a moment we do not need it. Our Lord Jesus adds to His church by grace. He saves by His own blood. We are not to show favouritism as He builds His church.


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