Pastor James J. Barker

Text: JAMES 2:1-10


  1. Over and over in the Bible, it is stated that God is not a respecter of persons (cf. Deut.1:17; Acts 10:34; Rom.2:11; 3:29; 10:12,13).
  2. Therefore, we too should be the same way (James 2:1; cf. Scofield margin).
  3. Favoritism is a worldly and unscriptural practice and is to be avoided by believers. Church "cliques" oftentimes can ruin a church.
  4. There is absolutely no place in Christianity for snobbery, cliques or favoritism.



    1. When I use the word "discriminate," I mean to look down upon a poor person or to "butter up" a rich person. Obviously, there are times when we must discriminate. Discrimination is not always wrong, but in the context of James 2 it is wrong.
    2. Some churches make a big ado when visitors come wearing fancy clothes and jewelry, driving an expensive car, and so on. The Bible clearly condemns this (2:1-4).
    3. I worked one time with a Korean fellow who saw this firsthand and was put off by it. He told me that the church he went to only selected rich men to serve as deacons. I know for a fact that many American churches operate the same way.
    4. This does not just apply to ushers or pastors – all Christians need to be careful in their dealings with other people. Do you make all visitors feel welcome and at home?
    5. This passage does not mean that we are to intentionally come to church wearing shabby clothes. What it means is that we are not to give preferential treatment to those who come in wearing expensive attire, and we are not to be rude to those who are poor (2:2-4).
    6. There is a scene in Dickens’ Great Expectations where Pip’s old friend, Joe, comes to London to visit him and Pip is embarrassed because of Joe’s old country clothes. Then Pip feels ashamed of himself, realizing that he had turned into a snob.
    7. Though the interpretation here refers to people fawning over rich people and looking down upon poor people, an application can be made for people being prejudiced for other reasons. For example: Spanish church out on Long Island that was controlled by Puerto Ricans, and they did not like it when a lot of people from El Salvador started coming.



    1. Some one once said: "God must surely love poor people because He made so many of them." This is a joke but there is much truth in it. The Bible says, "Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom…" (2:5).
    2. This is a Biblical principle (cf. Matt.11:5b; 19:23-26; Mark 12:37b). Unfortunately, most rich people are very self-satisfied and materialistic. They would rather trust in their money than in God (cf. I Tim.6:6-10).
    3. It is better to be neither rich nor poor (cf. Prov.30:8,9). But most poor people are anxious to get rich (e.g., look at the "Lotto" craze).
    4. In Bible college, we were taught to start churches in middle-class areas because the very rich and the very poor were both difficult to reach with the Gospel.
    5. However, having said all that, let me emphasize that there have been some wonderful Christians who were well-off. John Wesley and George Whitefield had a wealthy friend named Lady Huntington. She used to tell people that she was saved by an m. She explained that if I Cor.1:26 had read "not any wise, not any noble are called," then she would not have been saved. But it does not say "not any" but "not many."
    6. Next, James reminds his listeners that the rich oftentimes oppress the poor and even drag them into court (2:6).
    7. Furthermore, they even blaspheme the "worthy name" of our Lord (2:7). How absurd it is to toady to wicked people like this just because they have money.
    8. I remember back a few years ago when all of these black preachers were defending Mike Tyson during his rape trial. Surprise – he gave them a lot of money! And then after he was sent to prison, he converted to the Muslim faith.



    1. James defines "the royal law" as, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (cf. Lev.19:18; Mark 12:31).
    2. It is called the royal law because it is the king of all laws, a summary of all the laws in the Bible pertaining to man’s relationship with other men.
    3. This royal law gets down to where the rubber meets the road. Too often our actions are based upon the wrong motives. Even Christians can be selfish and worldly. That is why many Christians cater to the rich – they are looking for some kind of reward, either financially, socially, or materially.
    4. On the other hand, some Christians ignore poor people because they feel that there is nothing to gain by it.
    5. To this selfish behaviour, the Bible says: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (3:8). One time, a man asked our Lord, "Who is my neighbor?" and our Lord answered him by telling one of the most well-known parables in the Bible (Luke 10:29-37).
    6. In other words, our neighbor is any person who has a need that we can help to meet.
    7. To be a respecter of persons is a sin, and to commit even one sin is a serious offense in the eyes of a holy God (2:9,10). The law is like a chain. To break one link breaks the chain (2:10).
    8. Harry Ironside compared the situation to a man who fell off a cliff and grabbed onto a chain that was fastened to a tree stump. The chain had ten links. Ironside used to ask: "How many links would have to break before the man would fall into the abyss below?" The answer is obviously only one.


  1. There was a preacher in England by the name of Wilson Carlile who became friendly with King Edward VII and went to visit him as he was dying.
  2. As the preacher stood by the king’s bedside, King Edward said to him: "Carlile, tell everyone that kings and tramps need the same Saviour."

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