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JAMES 2:1-13

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
January 11, 1998

In 1989, I was in Yerevan with a group of 17 High School and College age youth. We had gone to try to help after the 1988 earthquake - and also to see Armenia. One night we were taken to a restaurant outside of Yerevan - it was one of those special places where “really important” people were allowed to go. Not that we were important people - but our presence there was important to some people.

That night around the table were writers and Ph.d’s of this and that - “important people”. And in typical fashion - there was a lot of alcohol - cognac - vodka - roche - beer - wine, etc. - and also some food. And a lot of toasting and speech making. Each person got up and made a speech - trying to outdo the last guy in proclaiming the virtues of the next guy - empty - worthless - compliments and praise.

Being sober - and not understanding all of what I was hearing was a real blessing. The whole night was a study in sincere insincerity.

"Furcha” or “trosh” - have you heard this term? Like if someone has lint on their suit. And you brush it off for them. And they think you’re being respectful and kind. But, everyone else knows that you’re making fun of them because they’re too "aboush" - too much of an idiot - to realize that you’re making fun of them. Good “furcha” is when the person you’re complimenting doesn’t realize you’re making a fool out of them.

We’ve all been in situations like this - being politically correct. Saying the right thing at the right time. Conversations of sincere insincerity - compliment the boss - someone in the family - someone at church - say something nice - its the price of keeping good relationships or not rocking the boat - of getting ahead - but deep down we don’t really mean it.

To be honest - it hurts - its damaging. It doesn’t feel good to be insincere - and it doesn’t feel good to receive insincere respect.

I invite you to turn to James 2:1-13. And keep your Bibles open to this passage as we’re going to look through these verses. This morning we want to look at sincerely expressing God’s love to others - without regard for ourselves.

James 2 - verses 1-4 - James begins with an illustration of what we’ve been talking about - insincere selfish love:

James says, My brethren, show no partiality...  For if a man with gold rings and in fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while you say to the poor man, “Stand there,” or “Sit at my feet,” (4) have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

We get the picture - the rich guy gets to sit in front - and the poor guy sits in the back on the floor - partiality - favoritism - distinctions - insincere flattery. The motivation - James says - is judgment based on evil motives - what we hope to gain for ourselves.

James is writing to poor people who desire what the rich can give them - recognition - social status - money.

The more I’ve thought about this - the more I realize how I fail. Just think about how hard it is - if we’re really honest with ourselves - how hard it is to do anything without thinking about how it affects us - what we gain in return.

If we really want to care for one another then whatever we do must be without regard for our own gain - a genuine expression of God’s love.

There are three truths that James shares which help us to be sincerely motivated in loving others - genuinely expressing Godly love towards each other.


Sincere love is motivated by what has real value

Last summer when I was in Lebanon one of the places that I went was Baalbeck. In North America if something is 100 years old we think its ancient. In the Middle East - if something is 1,000 years old its practically brand new. Baalbeck is a very well preserved ruin of 3 temple complexes - each next to the other - and very ancient.

There’s the coliseum in Rome - the “eternal” city. The pyramids in Egypt. And we could go on listing archeological sites. Ancient - and yet crumbling.

Permanence - endurance - that which continues without change. In this world what really is permanent?

James - in chapter 1 - says that the rich man is like the flower and the grass - he will pass away. (1:11) For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

So.... James says - why are you showing partiality to the rich man? Who are these rich people anyway? Chapter 2, verse 6: When you show partiality you dishonor the people who really are your friends - who are in the same boat you are in - you’re honoring the same people who oppress you and drag you into court. Verse 7: you’re honoring the same people who blaspheme the name of God - and have no respect for you and your beliefs. You’re helping the people who are abusing you.

And why? What do they offer you? What do you gain? Everything they have is passing away.

Sincerity is motivated by permanence - real - lasting value. Sincere Godly love is given because of the real, lasting, value of a person.


A mother once approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. The emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice and justice demanded death. “But I don’t ask for justice,” the mother explained. “I plead for mercy.”

“But your son does not deserve mercy,” Napoleon replied.

“Sir,” the women cried, “it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for.”

“Well, then,” Napoleon said, “I will have mercy.” And he spared the woman’s son.

Mercy is not getting what we deserve - we receive forgiveness when we deserve punishment.

James says - verse 8 - that we are to fulfill God’s great commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” - this great commandment which is the summary of all God’s laws about how we are to live in relationship with each other - sincere Godly love. But - verse 9 - when we show partiality - when we act insincerely towards each other we commit sin - we are to be judged and condemned for our sin.

Listen to what James says in verse 10, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” - “One strike and you’re out.” When we show partiality - or commit any other sin - we are judged worthy of condemnation. We are condemned by our own sin - deserving judgment - and yet God has shown us mercy. In Jesus we receive God’s pardon.

Romans 8:1,2: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (2) for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.

When we agree with God that we are sinners - and cast ourselves on His mercy - receiving Jesus as our Savior - we are no longer condemned but released - set free.

James says - verse 12:  So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty - act like those who know God’s mercy.

Verse 13:  For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgment.

So, practically what does this mean?


Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, not gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span? And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I day to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. But if God arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do for you, O men of little faith?” (Matthew 6:26-30)

That’s trust - not desiring to gain anything from anyone because God is our sufficiency.

When we begin to realize that God really loves us - knowing that we are sinners - knowing who we really are - knowing even the things we are afraid to admit to ourselves - and He still loves us and is merciful to us - then we can grow in our trust of Him. To become people who - verse 12 - “speak and act according to the law of liberty.”

We have no expectation - or need - to receive anything from anyone else. God is our sustenance.

Years ago, Toyota had an advertising campaign. Do you remember this? The theme was, “I Love What You Do For Me” - I love my Toyota car because of how it makes me feel.

That’s the world’s version of love - the insincere version of love. I love you - I say nice things - I act a certain way towards you - because I need you to give back to me. But, God’s love gives without expectation of return.

Imagine our relationships with each other - husbands and wives - here in the church - at work - with people we don’t even know - homeless and in great need - if the basis of our relationships was not what we get - but what we give. Sincere love motivated to uphold the real value of a person - motivated by trust in God - without any expectation - or need - of personal gain.

What this all boils down to is trust. Who do we trust to take care of us in life? Ourselves - and our manipulations - our speech - and abilities. Or God who sincerely loves us. If we learn to trust God - then we can learn to sincerely love others.