A Wisdom Retreat - October 10

Don’t Be a Snob

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.
Jesus Christ was anything but a snob. He never walked around with His nose in the air, reminding everyone that He was somebody special. He, of all people, could have.
He treated the Samaritan woman at the well as kindly as He treated noble Nicodemus. He was as gracious to a beggar and a prostitute as he was to Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue.
James writes, Act like Jesus Christ; think like He thought; live as He lived; treat others as He treated them.
Don’t miss the fact that Christ turned conventional wisdom upside down.  The world says, “Treat people like they treat you.”  Our Lord—repeated by James in our text—challenged us to live with an entirely different attitude.
An article from Johns Hopkins University Press highlighted the writing of Hesiod, a poet who lived 700 years before Christ, in which he wrote these words, “Love those who love you and help those who help you. Give to those who give to you and never to those who do not.”
And the world would say amen to that!
Living by that standard would be easy.  It comes naturally to us. But Jesus preached and modeled a different message—a holy perspective—when He said, “Do unto others as you would like for them to do to you, even if they don’t return the favor” (Matthew 7:12 Amplified Bible).
James is writing his epistle only a few months after the great revival in Jerusalem took place.  The Spirit of God had descended, the Gospel had been preached, and 3,000 people had placed their faith in the resurrected Christ (Acts 2).  The Church was born.  But it wasn’t long before the infant church had become a playground of prejudiced people who had divided into races, treating Jewish widows better and with more care and provision than Gentile widows (Acts 6).
James delivered an emphatic message to this congregation and every other assembly of believers who would read his letter: Stop it! The heart of God doesn’t play favorites among His chosen.
The Apostle Paul would echo, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).  
In other words, as it relates to the Gospel, God doesn’t play favorites.  The ground at the foot of the cross is level.
That’s a message the twenty-first century Church needs as much as the first-century Church. We still come to church carrying the baggage of our former lives. There is division among believers between Hispanics and Blacks, Whites and Blacks, Japanese and Chinese, blue-collar and white-collar workers, married and single people, parents and those who are  childless, the elderly and the young.
There’s not much movement across the aisle.
James commands that this attitude not define the life of the growing disciple. Don’t fall back into the classism and racism that defined your former life. Don’t follow Hesiod’s natural rule—follow Christ’s Golden Rule. 
The cure for prejudice, partiality, and favoritism is the heart of Christ. Let’s draw near to Him today and learn from Him.  It will help, for starters, to remember how far He condescended in order to love us.
Let’s do the same to everyone around us . . . don’t be a snob.
Prayer Point: Who are you struggling to accept? Pray for God to give you His heart and His condescending grace, so you treat them with love . . . perhaps even serving them with grace.
Extra Refreshment: Read Jesus’ profound words in Matthew 5:1-25 where He describes the radical way in which Christians are to love and treat both friends and enemies.

I Pledge Allegiance

As citizens of two kingdoms, Christians face the unique challenge of determining where their allegiance should lie. Do believers pledge allegiance to one nation or to one God above all nations? The Church finds itself in a similar crisis: Is its mission to reform politics or to redeem people?

In this exposition of Romans 13:1-7, Stephen clarifies the believer’s responsibility as a dual citizen of heaven and earth. He also examines the difficult relationship between Church and State, encouraging the Church to focus more on saving Americans than saving America.

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