Fulfill the Royal Law
James continued his thoughts on partiality in 2:5 - "Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?" The implied answer is yes! This is not an absolute truth, but it is a general one. More often than not, poor people are more willing to serve God than rich folks. Why is this the case? Probably because the rich are often too wrapped up in the world and its pleasures; the poor are more mindful of true spiritual riches.

James' point here is simple. He's telling these first-century Christians (and us today) that it makes no sense to show partiality to the rich and to mistreat the poor, because the poor are more likely to obey the gospel anyway--they're more likely to be rich in faith! The poor and the rich, white and black, educated and uneducated--they should all be treated equally!

"But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?" (James 2:6,7). They dishonored the poor by treating them with contempt and giving preference to the rich. Their behavior was foolish. As was noted earlier, not only are the poor more likely to be receptive to the gospel, but the rich were the ones adding to the misery of Christians in the first century by persecuting and oppressing them. James is telling Christians to wake up! Why do you show partiality to the ones who hurt you, abuse you, and blaspheme Christianity? That doesn't make any sense at all! Today, it is still true that the rich are generally more hostile to the cause of Christ than the poor are. Thus, from the perspective of logic alone, it makes no sense to favor the rich over the poor.

2:8 states - "If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you do well." James seems to be anticipating a response that they might make here. "Oh James, we're supposed to love our neighbor as ourselves; that's what we're doing! We're just treating these rich people like they deserve to be treated." James says no! If you really fulfilled this law, then you wouldn't treat the poor the way you do! It is good and proper to treat the rich with respect, but the poor man is your neighbor too. Why isn't he being treated with respect? God doesn't treat him any differently; why do you? Treat them equally!

This is a tough statement to apply, isn't it? Ask yourself: Do I love people with different colored skin like I love myself? Do I love people with different financial standing like I love myself? Do I love people with different educational levels like I love myself? Everyone loves themselves! We don't think any less of ourselves if we're not beautiful or rich or intelligent! No, we still love ourselves. Therefore, why is it that when other people aren't beautiful, rich, or intelligent that we show partiality against them? We need to love others in the same manner in which we love ourselves. That's a challenge for everyone, but it's something worth working on.