James – Dealing with sin
We are free to express our opinion in this country in any form. That includes social media. Social media is the new “word of mouth” without being face to face with anyone which seems to give most of us the confidence to say whatever is on our minds at the time…before thinking it through and not looking at the hurt or damage on the face to whom we are saying it.
Are we influenced by what others say? We independently shout, “no!” But what does our bank account show. Take a look at your checkbook. Where does your money go? Have you ever thought about how you spend your time? Take a few days and keep a running record. Where does the time go?, we ask ourselves. It may shock us. Reflecting on just a few of the ways we manage what God has given to us may reflect the extent of public opinion has on us.
Public opinion tells us what car to drive, what to wear, how to stay young looking, how to vacation well, and how to give ourselves what we think we desire. Public opinion also shows us how to put down those in high offices, how to degrade others who do not think like us in our “camp” who have told us to think. Public opinion even “dresses up” at times to reach believers with Christian rhetoric, then throws Jesus’ words back in our faces with judgments and accusations if we don’t think or act upon what they ask. Public opinion uses us to get what they want which is more power to control what we think. It is a continual parade of lies, deceptions, spins and sensational fake news.
You see, today I am abruptly stopped by the first sentence of thoughtful wisdom from James in our passage for today:
“My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith.”
James tells us not play favorites to anyone. God doesn’t operate like that. “God operates quite differently.” “This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God.” Period.
James reintroduces the Royal Rule…”Love others as you love yourself.” We are reminded of Jesus’ words…”Love God. Love others like I have loved you.” Sacrificial love. Unconditional love. No public opinion of love. Just God’s rich, never ending, unchanging, unshakable, limitless love.
James 2, The Message
The Royal Rule of Love
2 1-4 My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith. If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, “Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!” and either ignore the street person or say, “Better sit here in the back row,” haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted?
5-7 Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God. And here you are abusing these same citizens! Isn’t it the high and mighty who exploit you, who use the courts to rob you blind? Aren’t they the ones who scorn the new name—“Christian”—used in your baptisms?
8-11 You do well when you complete the Royal Rule of the Scriptures: “Love others as you love yourself.” But if you play up to these so-called important people, you go against the Rule and stand convicted by it. You can’t pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God’s law and ignoring others. The same God who said, “Don’t commit adultery,” also said, “Don’t murder.” If you don’t commit adultery but go ahead and murder, do you think your non-adultery will cancel out your murder? No, you’re a murderer, period.
12-13 Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.
One more thought….
“Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free.” Be kind. Have mercy. We are not the judge. And for heave’s sake, don’t rate and compare your kindness. Just be kind because Jesus was. Love like Jesus.
People do not need more opinions, they need a Savior.
Dear Heavenly Father,
You have stopped me cold with the facts. Thank you for teaching us and making us realize once more Who You are and how you think. Help us to love more and more like you taught us to love and less like public opinion tells us to love. Continue to transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world.
In Jesus Name, Amen