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JAMES 2:1-13 Partiality & Prejudice (Kent Smith 7/2/23)


JAMES 2:1-13




James instructs the early Chrisitians that they should not practice favoritism.

When we give anyone preferential treatment (Or demonstrate prejudice) based on anything other than faith, we sin.


James 2:1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.

When we play favorites, or show someone favor or give them an automatic advantage because of anything other than their faith in Christ, then we are acting with an attitude of personal favoritism driven by the values of the world or by our own preferences.

When we fear or distrust anyone before we know anything about them, we are showing our prejudice. This is simply the flip-side of favoritism.

James is warning the early church not to act in this way.

He further illustrates through hypothetical examples that were likely actual behaviors that he had witnessed in the church in Jerusalem.

James 2:2-4

For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?”

It’s been said “do not judge a book by its cover,” which often means don’t assume the value of an item or a person just by looking at the outside.

We dare not judge others without first learning their story and learning what is truly in their heart.

James says that when we judge others worthy of favoritism (or act with prejudice), then we are expressing our evil motives.

The evil of Favoritism is that we cozy up to some folks but do so for our own benefit.

The evil of Prejudice assumes that the person has nothing to offer me worthy of my time, effort, or kind attention.

God gives us His alternative approach to people: impartiality.



Jesus invites ALL people to Himself.

* Rich or Poor * Male of Female

* Law-abiding or criminal * Moral or immoral

* Educated or ignorant * Slave or free

* Big or Small * Jew or Gentile


James 2:5-7 Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?

James was confronting the early church about their practices of favoring the rich and showing prejudice against the poor.

Consider the history of Jesus' life. It was most often the poor who responded to the gospel, and the rich and powerful who threatened and opposed Him.

Is the church much different today? Most of us have heard the phrase “money talks.” It’s the idea that folks with money tend to have greater influence than those with less to offer.

The only discerning judgment we ought to be concerned with is “have they trusted their eternal destiny to the work and person of Jesus Christ?”

Those who believe in Him are forgiven of their sin.

Those who do not believe in Him are condemned for their sin. Though NOT BY US, BUT BY GOD!

So how should we treat people?

Certainly with impartiality, but for Christians there is an even higher standard.



Love your neighbor as yourself

Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.


James 2:8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

We are to love our neighbor as God has loved us. Without expecting them to meet our standards of economics, or behaviors, or even beliefs.

Jesus gave us the “golden rule” in the sermon on the mount.

Luke 6:31 & Matthew 7:12 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.

If someone who is a Muslim, Hindu, or atheist, should they be treated with any less honor and respect than you desire for yourself?

If someone is divorced, overweight, disabled, should they be treated with any less honor and respect than you desire for yourself?

If someone is a cross dresser, a homosexual, a prostitute, or a felon, should they be treated with any less honor and respect than you desire for yourself?

I am a sinner, I need to be careful about judging others because they don’t sin in the same manner that I do.

All sin is as an affront to God and His holiness.

James 2:9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

Our favoritism and prejudice is breaking the law of God and is sin.



One sin is sufficient to condemn us for eternity.

It does not matter which sin we committed.

IF WE JUDGE OTHERS, by showing partiality or prejudice, THEN WE SIN AND ARE CONDEMNED.


James 2:10-11 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

The point James is making is that “which sin” we commit is not the issue. It is that any sin and every sin condemns us.

God does not overlook the little sins, and judge people harshly who commit the really big sins.

Every sin and any sin is a death sentence.



  1. We are not judged under the Old law.

  2. We have been liberated through Christ.

  3. We have received mercy not judgment.

  4. We will be judged on how we have used our freedom and will be rewarded accordingly.


James 2:12-13 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. FOR JUDGMENT WILL BE MERCILESS TO ONE WHO HAS SHOWN NO MERCY;

James writes that we will “be judged by the law of liberty.”

What does this mean?

1. We are not judged under the Old law.

Jesus satisfied those requirements for us.

2. We have been liberated through Christ.

We have been set free from the penalty of sin. (judgment)

We have been set free from the power of sin. (bondage)

We will be set free from the presence of sin. (heaven)

3. We have received mercy not judgment

We ought to show forth mercy not judgment.

4. We will be judged on how we used our freedom and will be rewarded accordingly.





James 2:13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

So as we consider partiality and prejudice

As we consider our judgment of others

Let us consider that :

Mercy triumphed for us, therefore let Mercy triumph from us.


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