March 21-28th Dress to Impress

 

What would happen if Matt Ryan or some other celebrity walked in here? Our attention would immediately gravitate towards that person. How many of you would ask for his autograph?

What if a new student walked in? Would our attention gravitate to them like it would for a celebrity?

                Probably not.

We have this tendency to treat people that are considered higher on the social ladder better than those that are not.

Part of it is that we think that by knowing them or doing something for them it gives us more value or makes us more popular/interesting.

In reality, whether we realize it or not we are assessing value to a person’s life. Because Matt Ryan or any other celebrity is famous, we see them as having more value than a random person who may need help or has nothing to offer us.

We talked about this in Sunday school for the last two weeks. I asked the question, “what is something we struggle with in our youth group.” Cliques were mentioned.

                So, I’ve been encouraging you guys to speak to people you don’t know, asking random questions.  We have been getting to know things about people that we wouldn’t have known otherwise.

The goal behind that is to get you comfortable speaking to people outside of your normal group of friends. This will encourage us to get away from only speaking to certain people and hopefully make it easier to speak to people that are not like us. They may not look like us, talk like us, enjoy the same things we do, but it will help us share the love of Christ with them.

Let’s see how James deals with this very thing.

James 2: 1-4

Man Makes the Clothes

·         Our faith is tied to how we view others.

                If our faith is like Christ’s, He showed impartiality. He ministered to the broken and downcast. He also ministered to those in authority (although many of them rejected him or treated him poorly.)

                If we are not loving our neighbor it genuinely brings into question if we are truly loving God.
                1 John 4:20 states “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”

·         Love like Christ

We should show the love of Christ to all regardless of rank, appearance, wealth, race or social status. Jesus died for all, not just for people that look or act a certain way.

2 Corinthians 5:15 states “He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.”

What if I told you that this half of the room was going to go to heaven, and this half was going to go to hell and there was nothing you could do about it?

                This is what we are doing when we feel the Holy Spirit telling us to share the gospel with someone and we choose not to. When we don’t do it, we are saying that person is not worthy of the same salvation that we received or have been offered.    

                This thought whether on purpose or not, is contrary to what Christ taught us and lived and died for. We should show everyone we encounter the love of Christ because we could be that person that the Holy Spirit has commissioned to lead them to Christ.

 

James 2:5-7

Clothes don’t make the Man

·         Broke but Blessed

o   James here is repeating his earlier claim that we put value on people based on outward appearances.

o   Jesus states that the poor are blessed. How could this be? Has there ever been a time that you felt like you were at the end of your rope and all you could do was ask for help? I’m sure we have all been there. I know I have many times. The beautiful thing about the gospel is that God takes us as we are. He adopts us into His family regardless of our past or what we have to offer Him. So, when we are at our weakest point, rock bottom, He is there waiting. When we are at that point, that is when we ask for help. Those that never have any problems, never need anything are more difficult to stop and ask for help because there is a tendency to do it themselves.

o   Those hard situations in life are a lot of times God reminding us or showing us that we need Him more than we need anything else. So, He makes us poor in those situations so that the only thing we can do is depend on Him.

·         Chains vs. Change

o   Those that were causing oppression during Jesus’ time were the Pharisees. They were putting burdens on the Jews backs that were not justified through God’s law. They made the faith more about works than anything else. They put unnecessary chains on the religious people of their time.

o   Now, we see oppression from all walks of life. There can be a sense of arrogance among those that don’t realize they need help whether it be financially, or spiritually. They think they have all the answers and tend to look down on anyone that admits they need help. They can put chains on us that we think we need to act like them to fit in, or to be popular. We may get the mindset that we are going to be happy if we look or act like them. This is definitely not the case.

We need to not become these people or give them special priority over anyone else.

o   When we begin to follow Christ, those chains are removed and we begin to see change in our lives.

§  2 Corinthians 5:17 states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

§  Those things that appealed to us before, shouldn’t matter as much anymore. We have the only treasure that we need, in Christ. He has changed us and we are no longer bound by the chains of the world.

James 2:8-11

Royal Law vs. Huge Flaw

·         Do it Well

·         James states that if we are loving our neighbor as ourselves then we are doing well. We are living like Christ did. When we truly love our neighbor it is reflective of our relationship with God and also strengthens our relationship with God.

o   Because we have God in the right perspective we are able to elevate other people ahead of ourselves which makes it easier and easier to help them without complaining.

o   When we put other ahead of ourselves, it causes us to depend on God more than ourselves because we understand that pride is destructive. Humility is one of the traits that God desires in us because with humility He can shine through us.

·         Contrary, if we show favoritism to people because of status, then we are rejecting the gospel that we claim to believe. We may live perfectly with every other thing in the law, but if we fail here, we are guilty of it all.

James 2:12-13

Mercy against Judgment

·         Speak and act like you’re free.

o   “The Law of Liberty”

§  We are free from sin under the power of the Holy Spirit, so we should live this way. We should speak with love to those around us because what we say and do will be judged.

·         Matthew 12:10b- “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”

·         Colossians 3:23- “whatever you do, do it for the Lord.”

§  Those that refuse to help someone in need shows no mercy to the helpless and according to this text, they don’t know Christ and will receive no mercy when they are judged.

§  Keep this in mind, when God rescued us, it was at our worst. We may not have been outwardly struggling with things, but inwardly we were sinners without hope. There was nothing that we could do to earn our salvation, and yet Christ stepped in as our sacrifice to cover our worst, so that we would be spotless in front of God. We need to step in and help those that need it as well out of gratitude of what Christ has done for us.

·         “There is one obvious message to this section: our beliefs should control our behavior. If we  really believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that God is gracious, our conduct will reveal our convictions.”

Conclusion: We only believe as much of the Bible as we practice. So looking at your own life, how much do you really believe?

Don’t just talk the talk, Walk the Walk.

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